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Shantesh Patil

Game Designer, Writer, Traveller

Young Sheldon

Despite what many people feel about The Big Bang Theory, it still has the highest viewership among sitcoms even today. Young Sheldon is a spin off series that I had heard about sometime back. I initially assumed that it was simply a series that was trying to bank off the popularity of it’s parent show.

I came across an article talking about the most watched shows of 2017 and I wasn’t surprised to see Young Sheldon ranking high. I decided give it a shot when I saw that it was available on Amazon Prime Video.

The show is about the life of Sheldon from the original show when he was a child living in Texas with his parents and siblings. Meemaw his grandmother who gets mentioned often in the Big Bang Theory is a primary cast member here. Jim Parsons the adult Sheldon serves as the narrator for the show.

I expected the show to be very much like The Big Bang Theory with Sheldon being a snarky, sarcastic and obsessive compulsive child as well. While some aspects of his adult personality are present here, overall Young Sheldon is a show that feels very different from The Big Bang Theory.

9 year old Sheldon is still a genius and he can be sarcastic but he is also rather sweet and innocent at the same time. Every facet of his behavior whether a portrayal of his intelligence or his sarcasm is encompassed by the innocence with which he speaks his words. That is why the show feels so different from The Big Bang Theory. At the heart of it, its a show about family and the trials and tribulations of growing up as a boy genius in a very traditional family. Every other member of his family is equally well cast. Especially his mother who feels very different from the character she plays as his adult mother. The only common thread is their deep religious beliefs. Meemaw the grandmother is one of the best characters of the show. She is very different from the rest of the family and turned out very different from the overly sweet sounding Meemaw that the adult Sheldon always mentions.

The biggest change fans might notice going in though is that unlike The Big Bang Theory , Young Sheldon does not have a laugh track accompanying it. It’s hard to describe what kind of show it really is. To put it a bit obliquely it’s a relaxing, family friendly show for everyone. If you have grown to hate the adult Sheldon you just might ending feeling the complete opposite about him in this one.

This Is Us

A scripted family drama was not something I thought I would ever find myself watching. I began watching This is Us somewhere towards the end of the year. One episode in and I was hooked. What makes it so special is the incredible writing, the complex characters and the stellar cast who plays them. Add to this the brilliant music score and the selection of songs used throughout the episodes and it all adds up to an extremely well-produced show. That’s not where the superlatives end.

Each character is not just interesting on their own, the chemistry between all of the leads is incredible. There was a point when the lead characters Jack and Rebecca played by fairly well known actors Milo Ventimiglia(Of Heroes and Gilmore Girls fame) and Mandy Moore (the singer) became just the characters of Jack and Rebecca. It began to feel like I was watching real life documentary of a family. Every other cast member that comprises the family in the show is great in their own right. The other part about it is how many surprises it manages to throw your way on a regular basis.

There are times when This is Us will bring you to tears. But it earns those tears through genuine, intense and raw moments that could happen in anyone’s life. The dialogs are also stellar. They leave you hanging onto every word and make you wish you could express your most complex thoughts with such impact and clarity.

This Is Us is currently midway through its second season and it remains as fresh and engaging as it was in its first season. It’s also one of the highest watched dramas on television right now. Which bodes well for its future. As it currently stands I could watch the lives of these characters for a long time to come.

Master of None

Unlike a lot of people who may previously have watched Parks and Recreation I started watching Master of None with only the knowledge that Aziz Ansari who was one of the stars of that show also wrote this one. There was a decent bit of buzz around the quality of the show in addition to the fact that it was Netflix exclusive. Netflix finally launched in India last week and I immediately signed up for the free trial to find out what a streaming video subscription service is all about.

That is basically how I got around to watching Master of None. The first season consisting of 10 episodes was available to watch in it’s entirety so I finished the whole thing up over a span of 3–4 days. Now having never watched Parks and Recreation before I had no preconceived notions as to what sort of character would be played by Aziz Ansari. He plays a 30 something American of Indian descent. An upcoming actor trying to make his way in the world. Straight of the bat Aziz is a very likeable actor from the way he talks and portrays himself. Most importantly he seems very real and relatable. The same goes for the supporting cast that also includes his real life parents. They are extremely sweet and their voices posses and endearing quality to them. It doesn’t take more than an episode to feel like you’ve known Dev the character played by Aziz and his gang of friends for years.

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In 10 episodes the show covers a wide range of topics, from what it means to be a struggling actor, sexuality, relationships both with lovers and parents, feminism, racism, the intricate complexities of marriage, old age, death and everything in between. Everything is portrayed with exceptional wit, humor and an abundance of love. The situations in the show can make you smile, laugh or deliver a gut punch in equal measure. If you’re looking for something both funny and meaningful at the same time the show is a must watch.