The Big Bang Theory has proven both incredibly popular and highly enduring, currently in its tenth season and with absolutely no signs of slowing down. Based largely on the clashing of geek culture with conventional trends, the sitcom’s star – Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons) – has ironically become heavily embedded within geek culture himself, proving to be one of the most popular comedic characters of recent times with his social awkwardness, genius-level intellect and ability to provide a warm beverage in times of stress.
Given the character’s popularity, it’s hardly surprising that CBS and Warner Bros. have colluded to produce a prequel spinoff series focusing on Sheldon’s life as a child. Sheldon’s childhood is frequently referenced in The Big Bang Theory and his on-screen mother (Laurie Metcalf) has appeared on various occasions. The series – entitled Sheldon – will run for thirteen episodes and will feature Metcalf’s real life daughter Zoe Perry taking on the role of Sheldon’s mother.
As reported by Variety, Sheldon has now also cast its titular figure, with young actor Iain Armitage taking on the prestigious role. Despite his relative youth, the actor has already appeared in Big Little Lies and has become somewhat of an internet sensation for using his background in Broadway to review various productions on his YouTube channel.
Although Armitage hasn’t been in a great deal of small screen series – he’s not even into double digits, give him a break – anyone familiar with the kid’s YouTube interviews, reviews or television work will know that he has plenty of charisma for a youngster and it’s easy to imagine him busting out Sheldonisms and getting on his family’s nerves in Sheldon. And with Jim Parsons serving as an executive producer, he’ll also have the best possible guidance available to nail the character.
As ideas for a prequel to The Big Bang Theory go, delving into Sheldon’s youth is probably the best available option. The idea of a nerdy, scientific genius growing up in a rural, religious and conservative home has plenty of potential for laughs, hijinks and meaningful moments. Furthermore, the loyal fan base of The Big Bang Theory will no doubt be only too happy to have more Sheldon Cooper on their television screens and so the prequel has a willing audience ready and waiting.
On the other hand, spinoff series to television shows aren’t always met with success. For every Frasier, there’s a Joey and although it’s far too early to tell which of those Sheldon will take after, many would argue that a prequel series to The Big Bang Theory perhaps simply wasn’t warranted. Some of the frequent criticisms leveled at the show are that it relies too heavily on formulaic episodes and repeated jokes and is slow to deliver character development. If these criticisms hold any merit then attempting to squeeze an entire new series out of the franchise perhaps might tip Sheldon more towards the Joey end of the success spectrum.
Sheldon is currently without a release date. The Big Bang Theory continues with ‘The Escape Hatch Identification’ March 9th on CBS.