Despite being geniuses, Paige and Sheldon had different lives, and Sheldon’s ability to make friends over common interests helped him feel less alone.
Warning! SPOILERS about Young Sheldon season 6, episode 13 ahead.Young Sheldon season 6 had Paige reappear in Sheldon’s life more troubled than before, making some believe that Sheldon would have followed her path in The Big Bang Theory had he not made friends – however, Young Sheldon season 1 already proved that would have never been the case. Paige’s last appearance in Young Sheldon season 5 had already shown her obvious struggles with college, where she could succeed academically but was unable to make friends. However, Young Sheldon season 6, episode 13, “A Frat Party, a Sleepover and the Mother of All Blisters,” showed Paige in an even more difficult situation, as she willingly got drunk at college dorm parties to connect with her fellow students.
Given that Young Sheldon season 6, episode 13 also reminded audiences that Paige was actually smarter than Sheldon, her dangerous behavior could have also been adopted by Sheldon potentially, showing how The Big Bang Theory could have been darker had Sheldon not had friends. However, despite Paige’s loneliness and similarities to Sheldon, Young Sheldon had already proved in season 1 how Sheldon often found himself making friends. Indeed, while Sheldon was treated as a socially inept genius by both Young Sheldon and The Big Bang Theory, Young Sheldon season 1 had already offered an explanation for Sheldon’s ability to make friends.
Young Sheldon’s Tam Story Proved That Sheldon Can Make Friends
Tam’s friendship with Sheldon blossomed in Young Sheldon season 1, episode 4 after Sheldon rudely reprimanded Tam that he was in his spot and that it would have been easier for him to change seats than for Sheldon to explain why it was his spot. Despite Sheldon’s attitude and his disparaging comments about comic books, Tam still ended up bonding with Sheldon, helping him through his fear of getting food stuck in his throat after what happened that morning. This led Tam to form such an important Sheldon friendship, appearing in The Big Bang Theory and proving one of Sheldon’s longest friends.
While Sheldon’s directness was often mistaken as an inability to behave in the proper way socially in Young Sheldon and The Big Bang Theory, Young Sheldon season 1 proved that Sheldon willingly made friends as long as he found common ground with them. When his fear brought him to the comic book store and Tam in Young Sheldon season 1, episode 4 he even expressly told Tam, “You challenge me, I like that.” Sheldon ended up finding a safe space in comics and a friend in Tam relatively easily, because he consistently welcomed making friends over a common interest. Whether that happened intentionally or unintentionally, it made Sheldon rarely feel as lonely as Paige did in college.
Sheldon’s Background Helps Him Overcome Paige’s Issues
Although the Nobel listening party fiasco in the best Young Sheldon episode made Sheldon feel alone and misunderstood, he still had a family supporting him throughout Young Sheldon seasons 1 to 6. Unlike Sheldon, one of Paige’s earliest storylines had her acting out because of her parents splitting up, making her family situation quite different from Sheldon’s. While Sheldon was always given a safe space to be himself and still be supported by his whole family, Paige often felt like she didn’t have that.
Adding to that Paige’s inability to navigate college as a pre-teen and wanting to interact with peers but being unable to only made it worse for her. While both her and Sheldon’s brilliance could make them stick out, their different support systems actually made their situations distinct. Indeed, hadn’t it been for Sheldon’s family supporting him and his pragmatic attitude in making friends, his The Big Bang Theory story might have closely resembled Paige’s Young Sheldon one.