The Big Bang Theory is a show aired from 2007 to 2019, which follows a group of scientists living their lives. They go through many relationship struggles, scientific breakthroughs and downfalls, and simple adulting difficulties. Young Sheldon, on the other hand, is a prequel to The Big Bang Theory, and follows the fan-favorite character Sheldon through his childhood. The show also follows the rest of Sheldon’s family, as we see not just his coming-of-age but his entire family’s life growing up with him.
How Are Young Sheldon and Big Bang Theory Similar?
Many Big Bang Theory Easter Eggs are in Young Sheldon, connecting the continuity between the show and its prequel. They have overlapping characters, as a handful were first introduced in The Big Bang Theory in their adult ages before we met them in the cast of Young Sheldon in their youth. Sheldon is the most significant overlap, being a central character in both series. Initially, the biggest appeal of the series was to see how Sheldon got to become who he was at the beginning of The Big Bang Theory, and his character makes many leaps and bounds throughout Young Sheldon.
Both shows are funny, as most television sitcoms are. Both use Sheldon as a comedic element, as he often misunderstands normal social behaviors or tends to do something socially incorrect that becomes comedic to the audience. But this trope is also used with a bit of embarrassment from Sheldon’s family, and often frustration in Young Sheldon. We see some of this in The Big Bang Theory as well but not to the extent we do in the prequel.
Both also use heartfelt moments to drive character development, as sitcoms tend to do. We see characters in both shows learn and grow, developing new mindsets and perspectives. There are many genuine moments throughout both series, with characters expressing emotions that sometimes shock the audience and provide closure for the character.
What Makes Them Different?
The Big Bang Theory focuses on friendships and the friends’ relationships. While the family does pop in from time to time, and while each character’s parents are part of their storyline, the main focus is not on the family. Instead, most plot points revolve around the main group of friends, and that same group overcomes the obstacles.
In contrast, Young Sheldon is all about family. While some friends also come and go in the show and once again are part of that character’s individual development, they are not the main cast. Instead, the family members are the ones who overcome issues together and attempt to mend relationships after exchanging differing opinions or insults.
The family aspect shows a strong bond between the characters in the show. You get a “we’re in this together” feeling when watching them try to overcome the subsequent family struggle. Again, the parents are a vital point in this. They have three very different children and are constantly trying to raise them to the best of their abilities but have to often go against society’s views to do so.
Both shows are relatable to most people, but the daily dynamic of Young Sheldon captured the heart of many of its viewers much more than the struggling geniuses of the first show. The people who fell in love with Big Bang Theory did so either because they understood what it felt like to be socially awkward or an outcast, or because they simply liked to laugh with the dorky, eccentric characters
Age and Religion
The Big Bang Theory is set during the characters’ 20s and 30s. They are all adults trying to survive in the world of adulthood. They struggle with typical adult problems of owning apartments, staying in jobs, finding careers that suit them, and dealing with families they left behind. The humor is suitably a bit more mature.
Young Sheldon focuses on adolescence. We see Sheldon and his siblings grow from kids to teens, exploring what those terms mean. Not only do we see Sheldon’s abnormal childhood, but we see his siblings’ normal ones, providing sympathetic characters no matter who’s watching.
There are no religious themes discussed in The Big Bang Theory, unless commenting on Howard’s Judaism or Raj’s Hindu background. But Sheldon often brings up his Christian mother, who in the show is very religious. In Young Sheldon, you see Mary Cooper as just as religious as when we visit her in The Big Bang Theory. This spiritual aspect adds to a standard plot point: Sheldon fighting his mother’s views on religion. But it also adds a social element, in that the family needs to look good for the church. It’s interesting to watch how the family and church react to one another as the family deals with obstacles.
So Which Is Better, Young Sheldon or Big Bang Theory?
The Big Bang Theory was a great show because it surrounded a group of characters that are often not used all that often, especially in groups — the nerdy comic book guys. Usually there is one nerd in the group, often for comic relief, but not a clan of them. In addition, it gained a large fan base because of its uniqueness.
But Young Sheldon inherited that fan base and captured their hearts. The touching moments that all the fans of The Big Bang Theory related to doubled when they are now relating those moments to their family. Overall, Young Sheldon digs deeper into its characters, provides more heartfelt moments, and covers an excellent story about a family trying their hardest to have a good life.