Pop Culture Handbook

What The Big Bang Theory Gets Right About "East Texas"

... and what it doesn't.

By Katharine Shilcutt June 21, 2017 Published in the July 2017 issue of Houstonia Magazine

0717 pop culture big bang theory bkncwr

Also wrong: the way Sheldon looks in a cowboy hat.

With news that the hugely popular CBS comedy will be getting its own prequel, about a young Sheldon Cooper’s childhood on Galveston Island, we decided to delve into what the show gets right and wrong about the region:

Sheldon’s Texas accent: Right

As expected; actor Jim Parsons is a Houston native, after all.

Mary Cooper’s Texas accent: Right

Unexpectedly, Illinois-born Laurie Metcalf, who plays Sheldon’s mother on the show, nails a Longview-esque drawl.

Mary’s “mild Dr Pepper addiction”: Right

Who among us does not have a Dr Pepper addiction?

Sheldon’s place of birth: Right

There was once a K-Mart on Galveston’s Stewart Rd., though it’s now home to a Ross Dress for Less. (The show also has claimed Sheldon was born in the fictional Lawrence Memorial Hospital, also on the island, but we prefer the K-Mart origin story.)

Sheldon’s traumatic mall Santa incident: Wrong

Baybrook Mall, as described on the show, is not in Galveston, but rather in Friendswood, 36 miles north.

Sheldon dropping in to surprise his mother after a visit to the Manned Spacecraft Center: Right

Galveston is just down 45 from NASA, so this makes sense.

Sheldon and Howard Wolowitz sharing beers at a local dive bar in Galveston: Half and half

The beers are Lone Star longnecks—right. The bar is incredibly clean and well-lit, with nary a scruffy shrimper or gnarled boho artist in sight—wrong.

The whole concept of East Texas: Wrong

The show seems to continually conflate Galveston Island—where Sheldon was born and raised, and where his mother apparently still lives—with East Texas, an entirely different region.

The whole concept of evangelical Christianity in Texas: Mostly right

Though Mary’s specific denomination is never explicitly stated, her evangelical Christian beliefs square with anyone who grew up in Southern Baptist or Pentecostal families.

The whole concept of “trying to teach evolution to creationists in Texas” plot point from season 3: 

We want to say wrong, but this is the same state where Baylor University tried to establish an academic center for intelligent design as recently as 1999. So, right.

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