The Big Bang Theory’s Sheldon Cooper is my favourite character. Or, should I say was my favourite charcacter. Now, I despise him. Now, “Bazinga” makes me angry!
Arrogant, narcissistic, condescending and self-obsessed, Sheldon Cooper’s PhD, Sc.D., 187 IQ and Nobel Prize cannot redeem his character. Sheldon Lee Cooper is the Sun in the sitcom The Big Bang Theory and the rest of the characters are just planets who revolve around him in their individual orbits. Or so he thinks! Portrayed wonderfully and meticulously by Jim Parsons, who rightfully won four Emmys. A Golden Globe, two Critics’ Choice and a TCA awards, the character is probably the most obnoxious protagonist in any sitcom.
Created by Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady, The Big Bang Theory was followed by its prequel series Young Sheldon where Iain Armitage ably took over Parsons’ job to play the younger version of this arrogant man who shows a severe lack of social skill sets. A genius since birth, Sheldon seems pretty pre-occupied in his little world of science, mathematical equations, toy trains, Dungeons and Dragons, Leonard Nimoy and more. Alienated from other children as a child due to his extremely high IQ that led to a severely low EQ, Sheldon develops a bizarre personality.
While his antics are initially endearing, Sheldon soon begins to get on our nerves and we wish for him to grow up. An epitome of the Peter Pan Complex, Sheldon’s eccentricities has no bounds. Sheldon has OCD (although it is never mentioned on the show). Almost all the gags on the show make light of this, including his signature three-time knock which he developed due to childhood trauma.
His superiority complex, too, becomes the butt of many jokes. However, beyond the facade of humour and laughs, lies Sheldon’s excessive amount of self-entitlement about his own skills and intelligence. From belittling Howard for not having a PhD to making fun of his “best friend” Leonard at any given instance, Sheldon’s treatment of his friends is ruthless and appaling. From making Leonard be his personal chauffeur to kissing his mother, Sheldon is an absolutely terrible friend.
However, nothing is more harrowing than seeing his relationship with Amy. Amy has needs that she curbs to fit in with his demands. She continuously keeps making a compromise for his own sake. From spoiling her favourite childhood book to refusing to be intimate with her on several occasions, from calling out on her isolated and lonely past to making fun of her at any instance of time, Sheldon is downright cruel to her. He is no longer funny or adorable, but borderline emotionally abusive. Similarly, he treats Penny with disdain. Penny has already been portrayed to fit the misogynistic ‘dumb blonde’ stereotypes by the writers who use her like a rag toy for fulfilling the lack-of-a-college-degree jokes. Sheldon is merciless in his comments and does not have the emotional capacity to assess the situation.
Sheldon does not care about anyone’s happiness but his. He bullies them into submitting to their demands and emotionally torments them to cave into his desires. He has an infallible routine that the rest of them have to stick to irrespective of their personal lives. Sheldon loves being the centre of attention.
However, it is important to note that the writers use Cooper as a mere tool to churn out laughter. As a child who loved science, the show was pretty appealing, I often overlooked the problematic aspects of Sheldon’s character that I now find absolutely abhorrent.. Several years after the show, Sheldon still remains one of the most egotistical and narcissistic people in the history of fictional characters who definitely had a few personality disorders and was in dire need of treatment. Towards the end of the show, Sheldon’s ultimate wish is fulfilled as he manages to get a Nobel Prize for his distinguished contribution to science alongside his wife Amy. he ends up dedicating his speech to his friends. A tear-jerker, the speech is pretty moving and shows how he struggled with balancing his EQ and IQ. Had the writers dealt with his character well, he could have achieved redemption and come across as more tolerable and fun.
Sheldon Cooper embodies the age-old stereotype of being an eccentric genius who deserved better writing to stay away from being the most obnoxious and unforgivable sitcom lead.