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Young Sheldon’s Brenda Story Sets Up George’s Divorce (Despite No Affair)

While George doesn’t technically start an extramarital affair with Brenda (yet), their interactions in Young Sheldon season 5 sets up his divorce.

George (Lance Barber) may have not officially started an affair with Brenda (Melissa Peterman) — the one set up in The Big Bang Theory — but their interactions could also lead to his divorce in Young Sheldon. After a prolonged summer hiatus in 2021, the CBS sitcom returned on October 7, answering the looming question from the season 4 finale. The Young Sheldon season 5 premiere picked up where the previous episode left off, showing what came after George and Brenda bumped into each other at the local bar. Things between the two heated up throughout the installment, and Young Sheldon season 5, episode 19, reveals that George has a secret. 


Young Sheldon season 5 sets up the affair, and George’s divorce, in an episode titled “One Bad Night and Chaos of Selfish Desires.” The chapter saw George and Brenda hanging out at the pub and having some drinks together. Eventually, what started as an innocent conversation became flirtatious. Surprisingly, Brenda suggested that they leave and go to her home, where they could be alone. George was somehow shocked, but before he could respond, he suffered a health emergency and was rushed to the hospital. No one else knows what happened that night — except for George and Brenda — and they seem determined to keep it that way. That being said, even if the two didn’t technically do anything wrong, their night together lays the groundwork for the Coopers’ marriage falling apart. 

Related: Young Sheldon Resolves One Of Its Oldest Big Bang Theory Plot Holes

During Mary and George’s drive home from the hospital in Young Sheldon, she started to bring up the argument they had that led to him storming out of the house and into the bar. For context, during their heated discussion, the Cooper patriarch heartbreakingly admitted that he was dissatisfied with the current state of his life. However, before they could further discuss this, George cut the conversation short, leaving Mary to sit on that bombshell on her own. Following his latest health scare, she naturally wanted to talk about her husband’s current struggles properly. But instead of engaging, he decided to invalidate his own feelings, suggesting that they just forget that whole night altogether. Of course, this doesn’t mean that his woes were miraculously resolved. He just didn’t want to think about his borderline inappropriate flirting with Brenda as part of what happened that night. 

Why Young Sheldon’s George Cheats On Mary

Brenda in Young Sheldon season 4

George’s affair is set up in the Young Sheldon season 4 finale after he and Mary have a massive fight. The fight eventually leads him to Brenda, and the two are interrupted from their almost-tryst by his health scare. Young Sheldon season 5, episode 19, reveals that George does have a secret. Therefore, it’s likely that the two are cozying up offscreen, only to be caught later by Sheldon. Unfortunately, George refusing to openly discuss his feelings with his wife will only result in pent-up resentment towards his present situation moving forward. Before his admission, he briefly talked about such feelings in an earlier episode of Young Sheldon in season 4.

Given this, it’s safe to say that this has been plaguing him for quite a while now. He just didn’t want to bring it up with his family. As per grown-up Sheldon’s (Jim Parsons) story in The Big Bang Theory, his dad was no good — something that the spin-off clearly contradicts. What if his refusal to properly talk about this issue becomes the reason for his gradual change for the worse? It could explain the discrepancy in characterization between Young Sheldon and its parent series. 

What George’s Affair Means For The Character Of Sheldon

Sheldon stands in front of his white board on TBBT

In The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon is a character with a myriad of idiosyncrasies, and the most notable one, directly caused by witnessing George’s affair in the Young Sheldon timeline, is his three-knock rule. Before ever entering a room, he famously knocks three times while repeating that person’s name, before letting himself in. This was explained in Young Sheldon‘s parents’ show: he does this because he walked in on his father having a fling with a woman after entering the room without knocking. This sad part of Sheldon’s backstory hasn’t happened yet in the spinoff series, but the storyline is finally being explored in season 5. People have guessed that the incident will most likely occur during Young Sheldon season 6, closer to when George loses his job.

Related: Young Sheldon Season 5 Hiatus: When The Last Two Episodes Release

Another way that Sheldon was probably affected by George’s subsequent affair is in his ability to trust and his views on marriage. Despite being incredibly naive, Sheldon isn’t a very trusting person. His life is laid out on a tight schedule, with no room for surprises. Anyone in violation of things like, say, roommate agreements, immediately loses all trust and faces severe Sheldon-type consequences. His reluctance to marry Amy in The Big Bang Theory stems from his reaction to George’s extramarital experience. While the two do end up tying the knot, he does mention that his parent’s relationship, and divorce, have clouded how he sees marriage. Therefore, he hems and haws and wastes time not marrying Amy while trying to justify his flimsy reasoning.

The Coopers’ discussion around George’s problem doesn’t guarantee that their marriage will be saved in the long run. If Young Sheldon sticks to what’s established in The Big Bang Theory, the couple is headed towards a dark and ugly path from here on out. Despite this, if George didn’t refuse to relive the events of that emotional night, at least they could’ve tried to repair their secretly crumbling relationship.

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