The Big Bang Theory‘s crossover episode with Young Sheldon conveniently resolves the shows’ continuity problem regarding Sheldon’s (Jim Parsons/Iain Armitage) father, George Cooper Sr.. Unlike the rest of the family, the Cooper patriarch, played by Lance Barber, has only been described in the long-running sitcom for years, since he’s already dead. This gave fans an idea of what Sheldon’s father was like, but since the debut of the prequel offshoot last year, viewers have seen more of George Sr. and learned how he really was with his wife and kids.
Despite their shared universe, a significant portion of the loyal The Big Bang Theory fandom doesn’t like Young Sheldon, and one of the main reasons is that the offshoot is supposedly rewriting the canon established in its parent series. For the most part, they have a point; Sheldon’s family members are very different in the prequel compared to when they appeared in the main show. It’s difficult to come to terms that Laurie Metcalf’s Mary Cooper is the same person (only younger) as Zoe Perry’s. The same can be said with June Squibb’s and Annie Potts’ Meemaw. This issue, however, is the most apparent when it comes to Sheldon’s father.
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However, it didn’t take long before fans noticed how radically Sheldon’s descriptions of his dad differed to how he was in Young Sheldon. Despite his flaws, George Sr. wasn’t all that bad. He had a loving relationship with Missy (Raegen Revord) and even gave Sheldon valuable life-lessons. He straightened out Georgie (Montana Jordan) when he was wrong, and was quite affectionate towards Mary from time to time. He also made some major sacrifices for his family, including passing up on his dream job to coach the football team of a bigger college because he didn’t want to uproot his family and move them to Tulsa. So where did the disconnect come from?
In a single episode in The Big Bang Theory and Young Sheldon crossover special, this continuity issue was finally resolved. In “The VCR Illumination,” Sheldon got an unexpected pep talk from his dad after losing all hope on his failed Super Asymmetry paper. As he and Amy (Mayim Bialik) discussed George Sr., they realized that things can be “observer-relative,” meaning that things look different from various perspectives – the same principle they now follow as they continue their study despite an old Russian paper debunking the theory. All this time, fans had only been getting Sheldon’s perception of his dad, which has been clouded by his personal bad memories. Seeing the video reminded Sheldon that George Sr. had a good side as well.
The Big Bang Theory did something similar with Georgie, who was on non-speaking terms with his brother when Sheldon was forced to reach out and invite him to his wedding late last season. During their emotional confrontation, Sheldon was faced with the reality that he was wrong about the eldest Cooper sibling, as Georgie detailed how he carried the burden of being the man of the house when their father died, while Sheldon had nothing to worry about but his academics.
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The Big Bang Theory and Young Sheldon air Thursday nights on CBS.