Why “Young Sheldon” Will Never Measure Up to “Big Bang Theory”

It’s fashionable among TV critics and viewers to immediately hail any new prequel or sequel as superior to the original. As a result, it was almost predictable that after just a single episode, TV critics were rushing to proclaim “Young Sheldon” as better than “Big Bang Theory,” an all-time great CBS sitcom. But here are all the reasons why “Young Sheldon” will never measure up to “The Big Bang Theory.”

Reason #1: “Young Sheldon” is a spinoff with nothing new to say

Yes, “Young Sheldon” has been touted as an “origin story.” And, yes, it promises to shed light on how the older Sheldon Cooper grew up to be who he is. But let’s face it, “Young Sheldon” is a spinoff with nothing new to say. It is, to be quite cynical, just a cash grab by the folks at CBS.

Even TV critics appear to be baffled by what exactly “Young Sheldon” is trying to be. It’s not a true sitcom (more of that later), and it’s not a family drama, either. What we have is a show based around the antics of a 9-year-old kid (Iain Armitage, playing the young Sheldon Cooper) and a voice over by Jim Parsons (who plays the older Sheldon Cooper in “Big Bang Theory”). But is this really capable of becoming a mega, 10-season hit like “Big Bang Theory”? At some point, the cuteness wears off.

Reason #2: “Young Sheldon” isn’t even the best single-camera comedy on TV

The one thing that’s important to note is that “Young Sheldon” has the look and feel of a made-for-TV movie, and less of a true network sitcom. It all has to do with camera angles and how it’s filmed. “Big Bang Theory” was a classic multi-camera sitcom filmed live in front of a studio audience. There is laughter from the audience, and the show has the quality and feel of a play or staged drama.

Contrast that to “Young Sheldon,” which employs a single-camera format. This might not sound like a big deal to non-cinema buffs, but it has a huge impact on how you process the show. The pacing of the show is different, and the look and feel is different. It has much more of the look of a film. And that was intentional – show creator Chuck Lorre said it was because he didn’t want to subject his young child stars to the potential trauma of a live studio taping.

But, as one TV critic has pointed out, that results in “Young Sheldon” looking like “an episode of ‘One Life To Live’ that’s trying to be funny.” Yikes! That’s not exactly going to make “Young Sheldon” one of the all-time best shows, is it? Moreover, as other TV critics have pointed out, there are at least two other single-camera shows that are superior to “Young Sheldon” – “The Goldbergs” (on ABC) and “The Middle” (also on ABC). In other words, what chance does “Young Sheldon” ever have of measuring up to “Big Bang Theory” if it’s not even the best comedy of its type currently on TV?

Reason #3: “Young Sheldon” falls flat when it tries to joke about science

Let’s face it – the reason why everyone loved “Big Bang Theory” was because of the nerdy characters and the jokes involving science. Remember the scene where Sheldon and Leonard are trying to push a piece of furniture up a flight of stairs, and are making jokes about physics and gravity? And the nerdiness of Sheldon and his friends was what made the show work – it was amusing to see how they dealt with every day concerns like dating, relationships and being an adult.

With “Young Sheldon,” though, we lose all that. The funniest jokes thus far have involved a toy train set and Newtonian physics. But there’s nothing really funny about a 9-year-old kid with punch lines involving physics – it just sounds like a lot of forced humor from a really overworked scriptwriting team and a cute kid memorizing his lines. Really, how hard did they have to work to set up a joke involving trains and physics?


Even worse, little Iain Armitage has admitted in an interview that he’s never really watched any episodes of “Big Bang Theory.” WTF? When asked which of the episodes was his favorite, he couldn’t even name one. Later, he claimed that he enjoyed hearing Jim Parsons (as the older Sheldon Cooper) use the word “Bazinga!” a lot. So we’re asking a young kid who has never watched the show in his life to really give us the true Sheldon Cooper?

Yes, Iain Armitage is fabulously cute and wears a bowtie quite nicely. But this is really a show for a certain type of audience that likes “cute family comedies.” It’s not for fans of “Big Bang Theory.” It might win over a new type of audience, but it’s hard to see hard-core fans of “Big Bang Theory” hanging around once they see how CBS has essentially pulled a bait-and-switch with them.

Reason #4: “Little Sheldon” lacks the freshness and inventiveness of “Big Bang Theory”

Ten years ago, if you had asked anyone whether a TV sitcom featuring nerdy Cal Tech scientists and no proven star was ever going to be a hit, how many people would have raised their hands? All “Big Bang Theory” really had going for it at the time was a fresh, inventive premise and the track record of Chuck Lorre. Other shows might had a lone scientific genius, or some nerdy character. But an entire show built around nerds and nerd jokes? That was fresh and new.

In contrast, “Young Sheldon” is much more in the vein of “The Wonder Years.” It’s been done before. It’s just a nice family comedy. Seen there, done that. It might get some nice ratings for a few years, but it’s unlikely to become a decade-long comedic favorite.

As a result, “Young Sheldon” will never measure up to “Big Bang Theory.” It’s really just a spinoff that CBS is hoping to mine for ratings gold. (They ordered a full series after just one episode!) Yes, the iconic photo of a cute kid wearing a bowtie has been a big hit, but will the show really turn out to be a big hit as well? Long-time fans of “Big Bang Theory” know the answer to that.