As Sheldon Cooper might say, bazinga. On Monday night, Young Sheldon managed a pretty astonishing feat: the Big Bang Theory spin-off, which aired right after the season premiere of its progenitor, retained almost all of the viewers who tuned in to its lead-in. With 16.6 million total viewers and a 3.7 demo rating, that makes Sheldon the most-watched comedy launch in six years—and proves that no matter how much critics might scoff at the concept, Sheldon Cooper is here to stay.
For years, The Big Bang Theory has been one of broadcast TV’s biggest scripted cash cows; its cast is also one of the highest paid on TV. So it makes sense that CBS would want to find a way to expand on that success—and who better to zero in on than Sheldon? Jim Parsons has already racked up four Emmys for his performance in the original role, after all, and Sheldon is easily the show’s most recognizable character—complete with his own catchphrase.
The show has not hit as well with critics as it apparently did with audiences; as The Hollywood Reporter’s Daniel Fienberg noted in his review, which is characteristic of the response: “The pilot for Young Sheldon isn’t there yet. It’s too hung up on a main character we know isn’t going to and can’t change for the better. [Chuck] Lorre and the whole Big Bang Theory team did a good job of figuring out how that show had to evolve. This one needs a conceptual adjustment as well.” But given those blockbuster initial ratings, perhaps Team Sheldon won’t be trying too hard to fix something that, according to audiences anyway, was never broken in the first place.
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