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8 Ways Young Sheldon Changes How You See Mary In The Big Bang Theory
2023/07/03

While Young Sheldon and The Big Bang Theory both focus on Mary Cooper, the way Sheldon's mother is portrayed in the prequel inevitably changes how viewers see her in the earlier sitcom. Young Sheldon occasionally changes The Big Bang Theory's canon. However, most of the time, the prequel remains pretty close to the story laid out by its predecessor. Even so, since Young Sheldon focuses on Sheldon's family as he comes of age in suburban Texas, the show inevitably colors how viewers see the portrayal of these family members in The Big Bang Theory. For example, Young Sheldon has made Sheldon's struggles with his brother Georgie sadder.

The spinoff achieves this by showing just how much Georgie wants the approval of his parents, which makes the fact that Mary dotes over Sheldon hard for him to stomach. Without changing The Big Bang Theory's canon, Young Sheldon is able to make Georgie's plight more relatable and his character more fully rounded in the prequel. However, the ability to expand on The Big Bang Theory's canon isn't always a good thing in Young Sheldon. Young Sheldon can make characters who seem funny feel darker or sadder in retrospect. This has happened with Sheldon's mother, Mary, numerous times, with everything from her faith to her marriage.

8 Young Sheldon Makes Mary's The Big Bang Theory Treatment of Missy Sadder

In Young Sheldon season 5, Missy supports her mother when Mary is torn over her relationship with Pastor Rob. Looking back, this exchange makes it a lot less fun and much sadder that Mary insists Missy should reunite with her ex-husband in their final shared The Big Bang Theory appearance. Knowing that Missy is able to support her mother as a preteen makes Mary's failure to support her daughter's adult decisions galling. While The Big Bang Theory's next spinoff could offer an optimistic update on Missy's future, this is a sour note for the sitcom to end her relationship with Mary after Missy supported her mother at an early age.

7 Young Sheldon Makes Mary's The Big Bang Theory Religion Confusing

Young Sheldon season 6 sees Mary kicked out of church because Georgie gets Mandy pregnant. Sheldon then confronts the parishioners with a speech that points out their hypocrisy, and it is a pretty damning indictment of the small-town institution's failings. However, Mary has only grown more devout by the time that viewers meet her in The Big Bang Theory. The mystery of how the church manages to seduce Mary back into its ranks is tough to unravel, although admittedly, George Sr's sudden death could have led Young Sheldon's Mary back to church for solace.

6 Young Sheldon Makes Mary's George Slander Sadder

Mary frequently calls George an alcoholic philanderer throughout The Big Bang Theory. However, Young Sheldon shows that he was a sweet, decent husband and a good father, which makes these comments seem over-the-top at best and ahistorical at worst. However, these could seem like Mary's way of processing his tragically early death, metabolizing her grief as bitter anger at George. By exaggerating his failings, Mary can avoid her sadness over his death and her loss. Of course, this perspective results in the jokes featured throughout The Big Bang Theory much sadder in retrospect since they are used to cover up Mary's pain.

5 Young Sheldon Explains Mary's The Big Bang Theory Bitterness

Speaking of Mary's mean-spirited lines, these are linked to another notable aspect of her character that is jettisoned in Young Sheldon's version of the character. Mary's intense bitterness isn't present in Young Sheldon, but losing her husband at a young age could explain why she changed so much before The Big Bang Theory. Meemaw's character shift between Young Sheldon and The Big Bang Theory was even more extreme, meaning Mary's increasing bitterness could partially be down to the character aging over the decades.

The inevitable personality changes of aging, combined with the revelation that George Sr wasn't a bad guy before his death, make Mary's meaner older persona understandable.

4 Young Sheldon Makes Mary's Infidelity Jokes Hypocritical

Mary has many lines in The Big Bang Theory about George Sr cheating on her constantly. These might be justified in an upcoming story, but as of season 6, her relationship with Young Sheldon's Pastor Rob is just as questionable as George Sr's relationship with Brenda. Neither partner has technically cheated, but both have admitted that their extra-marital relationships did feel more intimate than they were comfortable with.

This causes Mary's mocking of George Sr's infidelity seem somewhat hypocritical since she is as culpable as he is.

3 Young Sheldon Makes Mary's Judgment Inconsistent

In Young Sheldon season 6, Mary helps Mandy when her parents kick her out of their home for getting pregnant with Georgie's child. However, Mary's older self judges independent adult women for having sex (let alone unplanned children) in The Big Bang Theory and doesn't seem anywhere near as open-minded about their choices. It is not clear when Mary got so much more judgmental, but Young Sheldon makes her incarnation in The Big Bang Theory feel meaner in retrospect.

Now that viewers know Mary isn't always this judgmental, these gags feel harsher, given how understanding she was in Mandy's time of need.

2 Young Sheldon Complicates Mary's Relationship With Meemaw

In The Big Bang Theory, Meemaw is essentially an older, even more crotchety version of Mary. In Young Sheldon, she is the opposite; a wild-at-heart firebrand who Mary can't contain. While Missy's teenage rebellion could have led to Meemaw's eventual character shift, this also means that Mary and Meemaw have a very different relationship in the two shows.

In Young Sheldon, Mary vacillates between scolding her mother for bad behavior and coming to her for advice. In The Big Bang Theory, they are much closer aligned in their worldview.

1 Young Sheldon Makes Sheldon's TBBT Closeness With Mary Sadder

In The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon often runs to his mother for comfort despite their disagreements. In Young Sheldon, it becomes clear that this is because she was his only port of call. Both Mary and Sheldon rely on each for support throughout his childhood and adolescence, causing their closeness in The Big Bang Theory feel sadder in retrospect. The fact that Mary goes to Germany with Sheldon in the Young Sheldon season 6 finale is a testament to how much she preferred him over her other children. This makes The Big Bang Theory's depiction of the Young Sheldon characters feel sadly codependent.

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