It’s Time They Were Recognized
By Dennis Greene
I am guilty of putting up a variety of false fronts. I spend lots of time with my golf buddies talking Red Sox, Patriots, and Bruins. I know the scores and the stats, and after a round, I usually join them in a beer, even though I would prefer to go to J.P. Licks and have a chocolate ice cream soda with vanilla ice cream. I try to act like a guy’s guy.
Each week, I attend the New Yorker magazine discussion group. I read the chosen item carefully and attempt to make insightful comments. I try to appear as an erudite student of literature, but I know my unfamiliarity with authors like Alice Munro or Richard Ford gives me away. My literary false front isn’t very convincing.
This term, I am enrolled in a class about the incomprehensible workings of our universe. We are learning about Einstein’s General and Special Theories of Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, and the relationship of time, space, mass, light, and energy. I try to act as if I am interested in understanding these mind stretching subjects, but it is another pose. I just want to understand what Sheldon Cooper is talking about on The Big Bang Theory.
I am a closet TV sit-com nerd, and after 10 years, I feel compelled to speak out. The “Me Too” movement focused my attention on our society’s treatment of women, and I have long been aware of yet another area where they are treated unjustly. For the past decade, I have noted the accolades heaped on Jim Parsons for his role of Sheldon Cooper, while Kaley Cuoco, who, as Penny, carried the show from the start, has received little professional recognition. Until two other female actors joined the cast, Penny was on screen almost full time with one or the other of the three male leads, and she carried them all. Sure, she earns lots of money but no individual Emmy nominations. To add insult to injury, since Mayim Bialik joined the cast, she has been nominated for the Emmy almost every year. Not to say Mayim doesn’t do an excellent job, but she joined an established hit and already had celebrity from her prior success as Blossom, while Kaley made The Big Bang Theory a hit. The lack of recognition received by extraordinary women actors in successful sit-coms (ok, Tina Fey, Julia Louis Dreyfus, and Chloris Leachman aside) is inexcusable. And this trend seems to be continuing.
Recently, I saw an episode of Young Sheldon, a prequel showcasing Dr. Sheldon Cooper in his youth. Ian Armitage, the young actor playing the nine -year-old Sheldon, is masterful in capturing Sheldon’s mannerisms, quirks, and idiosyncrasies and is already a frequent guest on TV talk shows and late night TV. It is likely that he will be as celebrated as Jim Parsons was in the role. But, in this pop culture geek’s humble opinion, the best characters on the show are Sheldon’s Meemaw, played by Annie Potts, and Sheldon’s twin sister Missy. Annie Potts dominates every scene she is in. She did the same thing in the movie Ghost Busters 34 years ago. While Dan Ackroyd, Bill Murray, and Chevy Chase went on to become household names, Annie Potts–despite her success on Designing Women–remains relatively unknown. And I have noticed little fanfare for Raegan Revard, the spunky and talented young actor who, as Missy, is the perfect foil for young Sheldon.
As a recently motivated, male geek feminist, I would like to call for an end to this injustice to women in TV sit-coms by showing some love and an Emmy nomination groundswell for Young Sheldon’s Meemaw, Annie Potts.
Dennis spent five years as an engineer and then forty as a lawyer–and sixty as a pop culture geek and junkie. He saw “The Day the Earth Stood Still” in 1951 when he was seven and has been hooked on speculative fiction ever since.