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Young Sheldon Dropped One Of The Big Bang Theory’s Darkest Running Jokes
2023/08/02

Summary Young Sheldon wisely dropped The Big Bang Theory's bleak running gag of Sheldon's childhood bullying, opting for a lighter approach. The spinoff made necessary changes to establish its own story, contradicting The Big Bang Theory's Sheldon backstory. Young Sheldon's warmer tone and focus on family sitcom setup made it inappropriate to depict Sheldon's past bullying, avoiding a potentially heartbreaking storyline.

While The Big Bang Theory could get away with darker jokes, Young Sheldon wisely dropped one of the show's bleakest running gags. Young Sheldon notably changed a lot of The Big Bang Theory's formula, allowing the spinoff to emerge from the shadow of its predecessor and gain popularity as a unique, original show. Young Sheldon replaced The Big Bang Theory's multi-camera setup with a single-camera approach, added a nostalgic 90s setting, and removed the hang-out show story in favor of a family sitcom setup.

However, not every change came about as easily as Young Sheldon dropping The Big Bang Theory's laugh track. Early episodes of Young Sheldon tried to stick to the canon of The Big Bang Theory, even though the show needed to contradict the original on occasion. However, Young Sheldon soon started to establish a story of its own that flew in the face of The Big Bang Theory's Sheldon backstory with increasing frequency. For example, The Big Bang Theory's grim jokes about Sheldon's childhood bullying don't align with Young Sheldon's story, but that is not necessarily a bad thing for either show.

Young Sheldon Tones Down Sheldon's Bullying

Young Sheldon avoided the subject of Sheldon's childhood bullying almost entirely because throwaway jokes about bullying are not the same as depictions of the show's young hero suffering through the experience personally. The rare storylines that do address bullying generally have a goofy twist, like Sheldon befriending Georgie's bully and using this to his advantage. As Georgie and Mandy's Young Sheldon storyline proves, the prequel series already has quite a few downbeat twists baked into the show's canon. Viewers familiar with The Big Bang Theory already know that George Sr. dies while Sheldon is very young, Georgie and Mandy break up, and George Sr. cheats on Mary.

Why Young Sheldon Couldn't Keep TBBT's Bullying Jokes

As such, cutting out more sad stories like Sheldon's childhood bullying simply makes sense. In The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon referenced his bullying from time to time, often detailing the humiliating things that his tormentors put him through. These gags could be darkly funny thanks to Jim Parsons' comedic timing, but viewers didn't need to see Sheldon's younger self get bullied in Young Sheldon. From The Big Bang Theory's pilot onwards, the show had a colder, more detached approach to its characters than Young Sheldon's warmer tone, so the series could make light of Sheldon's past bullying in a way that its prequel cannot.

While it was funny to listen to Sheldon and Leonard recount their absurdly tragic childhood trials, actually seeing their bullying could have been heartbreaking. Young Sheldon often features storylines that are surprisingly sad, such as Mary getting excommunicated from the church because of Mandy's pregnancy. The spinoff couldn't have succeeded if the series also depicted the hardest parts of Sheldon's childhood, even though removing his bullying does make his claims in The Big Bang Theory seem exaggerated or fabricated. However, this Big Bang Theory canon inconsistency was worth it to avoid Young Sheldon becoming one of the bleakest family comedies on television.

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