DADS ARE HUMAN TOO: (Warning, Spoiler Alert) Glenn and I watched the next to final episode of Young Sheldon where the dad, George dies of a heart attack. Like so many other fans of the show, I am heart-broken because as George Sr.’s character grew over time, I looked forward to seeing the complexity of the interactions he had with his family. If you watched the Big Bang shows, you know that Sheldon and his mom badmouth the dad for the most part, talking in negative terms about him to others and between themselves. He had an affair (turns out to be false) he was a bad dad, etc. In the Young Sheldon show, he is a long suffering dad who sacrifices constantly for the family even as they treat him as the butt of jokes:

Chuck Lorre had two jobs when creating Young Sheldon. One was to make a funny show, and two, undo all the damage made to George Cooper throughout The Big Bang Theory’s run. George was dead when The Big Bang Theory started, but Sheldon and his mother revisited him occasionally. More times than not, they had negative things to say about him, making him seem like the worst husband and father. When he was cast, Lance Barber was aware of the prevailing perception of George. In an interview with TV Line, Barber revealed that there were active efforts to change the character and make him more human instead of the butt of the joke. He and everyone in production overhauled the character to create a new person whom people could identify and sympathize with.

The belittling that the family did to this man was just sad. If he wanted anything, the wife said no, the kids put themselves first, especially Sheldon, and even the mother-in-law picked at him. When he got a better job earlier in the series, everyone cried and wouldn’t move, so he endured a lower status job at a high school. When he needed space in the house, he was told to get out of the way, etc. Right before George dies, things are looking up for him, he gets a college coaching job and the kids are nicer to him and so is the wife. Now that he is gone, they will have to go on without him. It’s sad.

George’s life and death seem like a metaphor for how our society treats men–they are expendable and an easy target for jokes and hit pieces on toxic masculinity. No one notices the sacrifices they make to keep the world moving–whether that be working to support a family, sacrificing their time or their lives for others while getting less and less in return and little notice. Except when that work and sacrifice and the men that do them are gone, then the world or in this case the Cooper family might actually miss the man that they so easily scorned while he was here.