It’s no secret that Jim Parsons is heavily involved in The Big Bang Theory’s spin-off series, Young Sheldon, but the narrations we hear from an older Sheldon Cooper add years of epilogue with a few lines of narrative unawareness.
Sheldon’s Narration is the Premise of the Series
Parsons’ narration in Young Sheldon is more than a focal point – it’s the premise of the entire series.
Sheldon’s voice-over is the foot in the door that got fans excited about the project in the first place and the guiding hand that takes us through his formative years. The knowing and nostalgic voice of an older Sheldon Cooper pulls the audience through his childhood and answers the burning questions fans have had about the quirky scientist’s upbringing since 2007.
It helps us to make sense of adult Sheldon’s idiosyncrasies. It explains where his phobias, preconceived notions, habits, and mannerisms began. It gives us the origin of Sheldon’s most iconic catchphrase and introduces us to his family.
And occasionally, drops hints about what happened after The Big Bang Theory.
The Narrations in Young Sheldon Add Insights to What Happened After The Big Bang Theory
It’s not uncommon for narration to sit as the focal point of a series – most of this column focuses on precisely that – but today, we’re going to explore something a little different. Rather than delve in on an older Sheldon being reflective of his past, we’re going to look at how Young Sheldon uses Parsons’ narration to give viewers a peak at what life is like for characters after the ending of The Big Bang Theory.
While viewers actively tune in to Young Sheldon based on its own merits as a series, it occasionally treats the audience to bits and pieces of an epilogue.
Although not explicitly elaborating on what happens after The Big Bang Theory, Parsons’ reprisal of the role is exceptionally unique because it stays true to the social unawareness we’ve come to expect from his character and tells us things we shouldn’t know.
In typical Sheldon fashion, his narration cluelessly drops easter eggs and tidbits of bonus information that bring closure to fans of the original series and offer them something extra to look forward to as Young Sheldon progresses.
One monumental example of such an occurrence comes with Parsons’ narration of Sheldon’s graduation party. He reflects on it as “the best graduation party [he’d] ever been to.”
At least until the graduation of his son – Leonard.
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Sheldon’s Narration Gives Audiences a Lot from a Little
While it can’t often be said of sitcoms, prequels, and spin-offs, the way Young Sheldon uses narration to impact multiple stories at once is kind of ingenious. A couple of lines of voice-over casually thrown in at the beginning and end of a few episodes gave us one of the most creative uses of narration we’ve explored in the column to date.
For fans, the reveal of Sheldon’s son was one of the most heartwarming moments in the entire series, and it came from just a few lines of narration at the end of an episode.
The reveal not only honored Sheldon’s best friend (who’d often felt taken for granted) but built up an extra layer of narrative structure around the Big Bang Theory characters. It clued fans in that Sheldon and Amy aren’t just happy, but started a family. It tells us that the Sheldon who narrates the series is considerably older than the Sheldon we saw at the end of The Big Bang Theory.
It’s written so well into the series that we occasionally hear additional narration from other Big Bang Theory alums like Mayim Bialik (Amy Farah-Fowler) and Simon Helberg (Howard Walowitz).
A Dialogue Between Narrators – The Surprising Guest Narrators in Young Sheldon
The first time Young Sheldon treats viewers to a guest narration comes at the premiere of its fourth season. While only lasting for about a line or two, the additional narration contributes emotional depth and humor to the episode – and by extension, the entire series.
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Following the reveal of Sheldon’s family life, he quickly adds that he wanted to name his son Leonard Nimoy Cooper, to which Mayim Bialik unexpectedly chimes in that Sheldon should be happy [she] let [Sheldon] name him Leonard at all. It was abrupt and completely unexpected, but the addition of Amy Farah Fowler’s voice-over added an extra layer of complexity to the narration style of the series. On the surface, it’s a touching cameo and comedic device, but as a narration, it offers something we don’t see very often in narration-driven projects – a dialogue between narrators. But that wouldn’t be the only time we hear a voice-over from another Big Bang Theory alum. While Bialik appears a second time as a guest narrator in the following season, Simon Helberg returns as Howard Wallowitz to argue with Sheldon at the beginning of an episode that introduces viewers to his foray into college engineering and why he looks down on it.
Kim Handysides is an award-winning voice artist. Her narrations have been heard on Discovery, Netflix, and the major networks, in iMax, the White House and the Smithsonian.