‘Young Sheldon’ Makes a Big Bang of Its Own During Series Debut

Sheldon Cooper sure had a busy Monday night. His adult self, played by Jim Parsons, received the “yes” he and “Big Bang Theory” fans have been clamoring for all summer, with longtime love interest Amy Farrah Fowler (Mayim Bialik) agreeing to finally marry America’s favorite theoretical physicist. Sheldon’s decision to tie the knot may illustrate that the lovable nerd is finally ready to grow up in the figurative sense, but now, thanks to the constantly turning gears over at CBS, fans get to watch the egg-head grow up in the literal sense, too. The first episode of “Big Bang” prequel “Young Sheldon” followed TBBT’s 11th season premiere, proving the show’s couldn’t be more different.

The first thing that “Young Sheldon” does to set itself apart from its successful multi-camera counterpart might be its smartest move, ditching the groan-inducing laugh track and letting viewers find their own jokes for once. There are a lot of jokes to be found, from 9-year-old Sheldon (Iain Armitage) asking his mother, Mary (Zoe Perry), when his testicles will descend mid-sermon to Mary using Radio Shack as a means of bribery, similar to how most parents use fun things like McDonalds. “In a world filled with uncertainty, this place will always be here,” a happy Sheldon chirps.

Sheldon’s smarts get him into high school a full five years early, but his stunted social skills don’t do him any favors when it comes to fitting in. His parents do what they can to help their little genius on his way, from Mary using bribery to get him to ditch his signature bowtie to his father, George (Lance Barber), giving him an important lesson in why you shouldn’t rat people out — spoiler: snitches get stitches, or in George’s case, fired. His father’s tacit admission that getting fired made him sad seems to stir something deep within Sheldon, foregoing his usual sanitation protocols at dinner and holding George’s hand during grace. It’s probably the only time in the whole show where you miss the studio audience, because this was a perfect moment for a nice canned “Awwww.”

The way both parents deal with their son’s daunting smarts while still showing him unabashed love and affection really powers the show forward, making viewers root not just for Sheldon, but for the family as a whole. Sheldon might have a tough time adjusting to high school, embarrassing his older brother Georgie (Montana Jordan) five minutes into his first day, but at least his parents are the support system he needs to grow up and become the happily engaged Sheldon we’ve come to know for 10 seasons, even if he tells his home room teacher she has a mustache.

When this show first came to light, it was easy to scoff at it as another CBS cash grab. In reality, “Young Sheldon” is a well-thought out and charming look at family and the struggles of a square peg trying to fit into a round hole. If its first episode is anything to go by, “Young Sheldon” ought to be tugging at viewers’ heartstrings for a very long time, and that’s no bazinga.

Young Sheldon” aired the series debut on Sept. 25 and airs Mondays at 8:30 p.m. ET on CBS.