Holy cow CBS. You premiere a potentially unique and successful spinoff to one of the best sitcoms of modern times, then make us, your viewer BFFs, wait a whole month for the next episode? Are you testing us? Is this some new schedule format? Were you talking with whoever schedules Game of Thrones? They might lead us along with this “maybe 2018 or maybe 2019” crap for the final season, but unless Young Sheldon takes a weird turn into some NSFW territory, don’t count on success.
Whatever the reason for the long delay, the show is now back. It’s been so long that I’ve had to reread my own recap on the first episode, which is like a vampire seeing its own reflection. So thank you CBS, that was just too pleasant.
Making New Friends
This episode was all about Sheldon experiencing the bane of many intelligent, awkward youth: friendship. More specifically, making friends. George and Mary observe Sheldon eating alone and assume he must be struggling to fit in at school. After hearing about his mother’s worries from Missy, Sheldon decides to take a scientific approach to making friends via the resource all kids had before Wikipedia, the school library.
Trying out his luck with Dale Carnegie’s How To Win Friends and Influence People, Sheldon tries out the basic tenants of making said friends: saying their name repeatedly, discussing their interests, commenting on their accomplishments, etc. The beta test with his father goes well enough, so Sheldon moves on to a live action experiment.
Anyone who has read Carnegie’s signature book knows that man never attended a small town public school. High school, in particular, refuses to obey the social etiquette of the 1930’s Ivy League gentlemen’s clubs. Sheldon soon discovers this fact after trying his luck on cheerleaders, smokers, jocks, etc.
As a good little social scientist (along with some helpful advice from his sister), Sheldon decides to revamp the experiment by seeking out others who have checked out the book. Who is likely to borrow an outdated self help book? Middle aged teachers of course!
From the whiny math teacher to the whiny science teacher (both of who we learn were giving each other extra credit outside of class… if you know what I mean), Sheldon gets to witness the sad realities of adult life.
Finding his efforts to be fruitless, Sheldon returns the book to the library where he meets a young, scientifically minded kid from Vietnam named Tam. With so much in common, such as rockets and more rockets, it appears to be a match made in heaven.
Mary agrees and instructs Sheldon to invite his new friend over for dinner. Not understanding the purpose of this request, Sheldon nevertheless obeys. At dinner, Tam gets introduced to some good, old fashioned Texas BBQ (and mild, naive racism). The young guest also shares his family’s harrowing tale of traveling from Vietnam to the US for a better life. Somehow the story ends up being depressing.
Everything wraps up with a failed attempt at launching a rocket while FBI agents show up to inquire about Sheldon’s attempts to buy some radioactive material via the 1980s internet… also known as the phone.
Wrapping It Up
Rants about CBS’ scheduling strategy aside, I have to say it’s nice the show is finally back and on a regular broadcast schedule now.
As far as this episode is concerned, I found it to be oddly relatable. Simple backstory about me: I was a socially awkward kid. I know… writer on The Game of Nerds being socially awkward… hard to believe. But it’s true.
My own strategy for making friends in high school involved seeking guidance from the very same Dale Carnegie book along with a few other self-help selections my local Borders carried before Amazon came along and burned that place to the ground.
Do I see a bit of myself in young Sheldon? Perhaps. That might be the magic of this episode or of the show itself. There is a certain relatability the show’s writers are shooting for that is different from The Big Bang Theory. Granted, that relatability is completely shattered once I realize this kid will grow up to afford a California apartment while alienating virtually everyone he meets, but it’s something.