Pastor Rob’s role on Young Sheldon is evidence of just how much The Big Bang Theory spinoff’s tone differs from the earlier hit sitcom’s style.
While The Big Bang Theory and Young Sheldon share a lot of similarities, the key difference between the two shows can be illustrated by the character of Pastor Rob. Young Sheldon has strayed far from its original inspiration. Even though the sitcom spinoff began life as an origin story for The Big Bang Theory’s Sheldon Cooper, Young Sheldon has since explored the complex dysfunctional relationship of the Cooper family more and more in recent seasons.
While some great Young Sheldon episodes still center on Sheldon’s goofy misadventures, many of The Big Bang Theory spinoff’s outings are much more dramatic than its predecessor’s episodes. The clearest indication of this change comes in the form of Young Sheldon’s supporting star Pastor Rob. Where this young well-meaning pastor would have likely been a one-off joke character on The Big Bang Theory, in Young Sheldon, he may end up being an important factor in the breakdown of Mary and George’s marriage.
Young Sheldon’s creators admitted that the plot about Mary potentially having an affair with Pastor Rob was a “bit of a soap opera” and a story that they enjoyed returning to as a result of its dramatic potential. Mary’s obsession with church makes Young Sheldon’s plots darker on occasion thanks to the frustration and anger that her religious fervor sparks in her family, as was evidenced when Mary reacted to the news of Georgie getting his girlfriend pregnant with more concern over their neighbor’s opinions of her than worry for her son’s future. Like this character flaw, Mary’s potential affair with Pastor Rob is another story strand that, while it has its funny moments (such as Mary’s overblown dream about the young pastor), is generally played for drama by Young Sheldon’s creators.
Young Sheldon Is More Dramatic Than The Big Bang Theory
Between Georgie getting Mandy pregnant, both Sheldon’s parents considering affairs, and Meemaw’s tumultuous love life and gambling problem, it’s fair to say that Young Sheldon features a lot more drama than its predecessor. While The Big Bang Theory’s Sheldon is very similar to his younger incarnation in Young Sheldon, the milieu that the older character resides in is very different. Where the adventures of The Big Bang Theory’s friend group were generally low-stakes sitcom silliness with the show staging one or two emotionally charged stories per season, almost every episode of Young Sheldon features a dramatic revelation about one of the Coopers or a tense conflict between the family’s members.
This change is perfectly encapsulated in the character of Pastor Rob, who wouldn’t have had much to do in The Big Bang Theory. He might have argued with Sheldon over religion and been swiftly shut down, but Young Sheldon’s DWQD Pastor Rob is so mild-mannered and good-natured that the more comedic sitcom wouldn’t have had much use for such a conflict-averse character. In contrast, Young Sheldon’s love of more serious stories and emotionally impactful plots means the sitcom spinoff managed to make even a figure as anodyne as Pastor Rob the unintentional instigator of a tense love triangle. Young Sheldon’s talent for finding drama in suburbia stands in stark contrast to The Big Bang Theory, as evidenced by Pastor Rob’s role in the spinoff.
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