Young Sheldon also dropped The Big Bang Theory’s laugh track and pivoted from a hang-out show to a family sitcom, further differentiating itself from the earlier hit. However, now that Young Sheldon season 6 Church tease suggests that the show will only grow more dramatic as the series continues, it is worth asking why The Big Bang Theory spinoff has so many more emotionally charged storylines than its predecessor. One reason might be that Young Sheldon wants to avoid comparisons to another, similar series.
Young Sheldon is a nostalgic coming-of-age family sitcom set in the 80s that follows a nerdy outcast’s struggles with his overbearing mother and his dysfunctional family. The Big Bang Theory spinoff features an older brother character who is dim-witted but good-natured and an irascible father who loves his brainy son but can never really see eye to eye with him despite this. Thus, Young Sheldon’s sadder, more dramatic storylines are used to conceal the fact that, without this added drama, the show could easily have become a clone of The Goldbergs.
The Goldbergs is a warmer, sillier show than Young Sheldon, which leans into drama more often and feels less like a knock-off of the earlier sitcom as a result. The Goldbergs relies on broad character comedy more than Young Sheldon, which intersperses plots about infidelity, money troubles, and teenage pregnancy into its protagonist’s standard teenage tribulations. As a result, Young Sheldon managed to effectively differentiate itself from The Goldbergs despite the two shows sharing a lot of creative DNA primarily because the tone of the two sitcoms feels different. Some of Young Sheldon’s best episodes detail lighthearted, low-stakes misadventures like Sheldon heading to a comic convention without permission, but The Big Bang Theory spinoff needed to bookend these plots with more dramatic content to distinguish itself from The Goldbergs.
Of course, like any long-running sitcom, The Goldbergs has been known to tell sadder stories on occasion. The upcoming season 10 will likely be heavier than ever before as the show finally gets around to addressing the absence of former star Jeff Garlin, who played the family’s patriarch from seasons 1—8 before being fired from the series. Currently, the show has been (somewhat awkwardly) handling this by editing Garlin into The Goldbergs episodes, although it seems likely that The Goldbergs season 10 will abandon this approach and simply kill off the character. Whether this means that The Goldbergs will become as dramatic as The Big Bang Theory spinoff Young Sheldon remains to be seen, but it is clear that the two shows are now established enough for viewers to no longer need a tonal disparity to distinguish between them.