Jim Parsons as Big Bang Theory Character Sheldon Cooper

Jim Parsons Says Sheldon Cooper Doesn’t Have Asperger’s: Likes ‘The Way It’s Handled’

Jim Parsons spoke with Adweek recently and addressed an issue that’s long been associated with his Big Bang Theory character Sheldon Cooper: Asperger’s. In an interview published Monday, Parsons responded to interviewer Sam Thielman’s assertion that Parsons is now “the spokesman for Asperger’s.” Parsons’ response was explanatory about the character’s origins:

“Asperger’s came up as a question within the first few episodes. I got asked about it by a reporter, and I had heard of it, but I didn’t know what it was, specifically. So I asked the writers—I said, ‘They’re asking me if Sheldon has Asperger’s,’ and they were like, ‘No.’ And I said, ‘OK.’ And I went back and I said, ‘No.’ And then I read some about it and I went, OK, well, if the writers say he doesn’t, then he doesn’t, but he certainly shares some qualities with those who do. I like the way it’s handled.”

Indeed, going back to the show’s early days, there have been extensive discussions about whether or not Parsons’ character should bear the label of “Asperger’s.” Back in 2009, a Slate article analyzed the issue of why Asperger’s is never mentioned on the show. Producer Chuck Lorre reportedly denied Sheldon Cooper was on the autism spectrum and co-creator Bill Prady said the character is better labelled “Sheldony,” and some aspects are written into Sheldon that simply feel right for who he is:

“He’d say, ‘I can’t go to 47th Street Photo by myself.’ And it was maybe three blocks away. It was never questioned. Quirks were never challenged—they were simply accepted as a quality of the person. Are these things Asperger’s? I don’t know.”

At about the same time, in 2009, a writer with Asperger’s wrote in her Psychology Today column about the striking similarities between Sheldon’s character traits and aspects of Asperger’s:

“I was able to rent and watch the first season. I am now convinced that Sheldon is ‘one of us.’ I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard.”

Back on the pages of the current issue of Adweek, Thielman asserted Sheldon Cooper normalizes something that comes with a “real stigma.” Parsons compared it to the normalizing of members of his own community:

“That comes up very much with gay issues, too. And being part of that community, one of the things I’ve always said is that it’s nice when you see gay characters as normal people; what’s even better is when it’s not even worth remarking about. This is who this person is; he’s just another human.”

Parsons also spoke to Adweek about his recent Emmy win, which also made the pages of The Inquisitr. Parsons and his Big Bang Theory castmates return for season eight later this month.

[Image: Big Bang Theory/CBS]

Comments