Summary Young Sheldon avoided the pitfalls of many sitcom spinoffs by dropping The Big Bang Theory's laugh track, creating a fresh and unique tone. The show's creators successfully made Young Sheldon feel completely different from The Big Bang Theory by fundamentally altering its style and tone. By adding a voiceover and shifting genres, Young Sheldon stood out among other spinoffs, making it a more successful and enjoyable show.
Many sitcom spinoffs replicate their predecessors too closely, but Young Sheldondropping The Big Bang Theory's laugh track allowed it to avoid this trap. Sitcom spinoffs are a hard thing to pull off. If the new series is too similar to the original, it can feel redundant and like a carbon copy, as seen with Friends follow-up Joey. However, if the spinoff skews too far from the style of the initial series, it can prove jarring and unwelcome. While other genres of television can thrive in this unpredictable space, sitcoms are often seen as comfort viewing. Daring experimentation isn't always welcome.
As such, the creators of sitcom spinoffs are tasked with a familiar problem: how to deliver a similar experience while making the show unique in its own right. Young Sheldon managed to pull this off by telling the story of George Sr., Mary, and the rest of the Cooper clan. While other sitcom spinoffs struggled to match the critical acclaim of their predecessors, Young Sheldon discouraged comparisons between itself and The Big Bang Theory by fundamentally altering the tone of the series. Young Sheldon felt completely different from The Big Bang Theory, which made the show more successful.
Even successful spinoffs like That '90s Show and How I Met Your Father were criticized for looking and sounding too much like the original series. This often happens when such follow-ups fail to update or reinvent the franchise. Part of the problem was that these spinoffs replicated the style of their predecessors completely. Young Sheldon, however, wisely added narration and dropped The Big Bang Theory's laugh track. This allowed the spinoff to shift genres, going from a hang-out show like The Big Bang Theory to a family sitcom.
By contrast, both How I Met Your Father and That '90s Show kept the style of their predecessors intact. The two spinoffs struggled to stand out as a result. Since How I Met Your Father looked so much like How I Met Your Mother, it became impossible to watch the series without thinking of Ted Mosby and his friends. Similarly, since That '90s Show maintained the laugh track and recognizable kitschy editing of That '70s Show, the series felt like a facsimile even during its best outings. Meanwhile, Young Sheldon looked and felt nothing like The Big Bang Theory.
Young Sheldon adding a voiceover wasn't the most daring stylistic choice that a sitcom has ever made, and the series' early '90s setting means that the spinoff still played into audience nostalgia. Despite this, Young Sheldon felt fresher than other sitcom spinoffs simply because the series did something new with its material. The Big Bang Theory was a huge success, so it would have been easy for the show's creators to recreate the show's formula with a new cast. Instead, Young Sheldon revisited The Big Bang Theory's lead character with a whole new style. Ultimately, it benefited from making this leap.