Annie Potts Mourns the End of ‘Young Sheldon’: ‘Are They Stupid?’

And not just any role. Potts–the unflappable receptionist in Ghostbusters, one of the steel magnolias in Designing Women, and most recently the wise, albeit felonious grandma in Young Sheldon– deserves fabulous parts.

She wants one, now.

During a 40-minute interview, Potts mentions four times that she’s currently unemployed. A little annoyed, too. Ending CBS’ Young Sheldon wasn’t her idea, and she can’t fathom why anyone thought it was a good one.

“I really don’t understand why they canceled it because it’s the No. 1 show on network TV,” Potts says over Zoom from her Los Angeles home. “It’s the No. 1 show on Netflix. I can say this now because it’s over: Are they stupid?”

After seven seasons, The Big Bang Theory spinoff concludes with a double episode Thursday, May 16. The conclusion of the sitcom isn’t breaking news. Going into this season, the creators told the Television Critics Association in February that the finale was coming.

“Certain things that we know happened in Sheldon’s life when he’s 14, as the character is this season,” Steve Holland, an executive producer, said. “And we started talking about the future of the show and what it would look like, and it just felt like this was the right time for that story to come to an end. And with those big events happening and knowing where Sheldon goes off to Caltech at 14, it just felt like the right time to end the show, and to end it strong and while it was still on top.”

Last week, the series also offered two episodes, and a death in the family. The character, Sheldon’s football coach dad, was the comic foil of Meemaw (Potts).

In these four episodes, Potts shows her wide range. Keeping with the character of Connie/Meemaw, Potts is prickly and funny. As the matriarch, she’s also tested while holding up her family shattered by grief.

If it seems beyond corny to sob over a network comedy, so be it. Just watch last week’s episodes before Thursday’s ending, and know that tears are a given.

While the wrap-up may be a logical step for the boy genius, it isn’t for his grandmother, the one character who could always deal with him.

“Really, it’s incomprehensible to me,” Potts says. “But seven is a biblical number. It’s a complete number. And, apparently, they felt that we were complete.”

She pauses momentarily, then admits, “I’m a workaholic. I have a problem. I know it. I just like to work, and I’ve been lucky enough to have been working in a business that doesn’t usually support ongoing employment, so I’m spoiled. And I like it. I’m going to miss it with the kids. My own kids are grown, and I really like to go to work every day and have those children sit on my lap and kiss me and hug me and tell me they love me all day long. That’s a good thing.”

‘Young Sheldon’ Ends As It Began: An Underrated Smash

A few days away from filming the last scene, Potts acknowledges, “There’s been a lot of grieving. We’ve been together for so long now and raised the children sort of communally, and it’s such a beautiful show.”

Sheldon and his twin sister Missy (Iain Armitage and Raegan Revord) were 9 when the series began.

“I was in a car seat,” Revord said at that press conference on the show’s Warner Bros’ Studio set. “And I’m now learning how to drive.”

Missy, like everyone in the family, turns to Meemaw for advice. Potts plays someone we all need in our lives. She has a take-no-prisoners attitude, is honest (or as honest as she needs to be in any situation), and sexy. Yes, sexy.

Potts revels in playing Connie, who’s had a couple of lovers during the series’ run (and if someone can explain Wallace Shawn’s sexual magnetism, please share). Ed Begley Jr.’s character has been sniffing around her for years. Connie’s beau for the last four seasons has been Craig T. Nelson’s character, Dale.

All of this proves that at 71, women do remain desirable, despite what Hollywood has long maintained. Potts references the cut-off date at which women are supposed to switch off their libidos and turn invisible. Meanwhile, legend has it, men only grow more desirable with each year.

“It’s that fuckability, right?” she says, citing the Inside Amy Schumer skit with Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tina Fey, Patricia Arquette, and Schumer talking about an actress’s “last fuckable day.”

“There are so many other things that are appealing about women with wisdom,” Potts says. “To have some kind of validity, that’s good. I was happy to carry water for that message.”

This season, after Connie’s house was destroyed in a tornado, she moved in with Dale.

“One of the great things about joining Young Sheldon was, she was so welcoming,” says Nelson (Coach, The Incredibles). “When I did come on the show, she was right there for it, and it was just wonderful. I deeply appreciate that because it’s hard to do sometimes. I came in the third season, and they’d been established.”

“She has a very quirky sense of humor,” Nelson adds. “She’s very outspoken, mischievous, really funny all the time. I think every day that I worked with her something was going on. So, it was great. She is a wonderful person to be around, be with, and act with.”

Connie is the friend you want slamming tequila shots with you when you try to see just how much you can drink in one night. Later, she can help plot how to get out of whatever trouble you created and do so in a charming way. She’s a singular type, but Potts says that Connie isn’t based on any one person.

“I would say temperamentally she’s more like one of my sisters,” she says. “My mother was like that a little bit. But you know, I grew up in the South. There were ample opportunities to know women like Meemaw, and they tickle me, as we say in the South.”

Potts and her two sisters grew up on a farm, where they raised cattle, tobacco, and cattle feed. It was in Franklin, Kentucky, that she first stepped on a stage.

“There was a little contest in the little, tiny town that I was in,” she says. “I mean, there’s 5,000 people. And there was a contest for who was the most darling child. It was co-ed, so there was a Little Miss Franklin-Simpson County and a Little Mister. I guess I was about 8, and you know, just like the Miss America Pageant, they brought the little child out—me in that case—and asked me a question. I had a funny answer. And because I’ve been well-trained by my parents to tell a good story, I got a big laugh. And I thought, ‘Oh, that is fantastic!’ And I did win Little Miss Simpson County. So that’s how I got my start. I told a joke, and it got a big reaction, and that was it.”

She doesn’t remember the joke, just that it was about her dog, and that she loved being in the embrace of an audience.

When she was a tween, her family visited New York. She saw the World’s Fair of 1964 and her first Broadway show, High Spirits, with Tammy Grimes and “Bea effin’ Lillie (Beatrice Lillie).

“And I was like, I don’t know what you have to do to do that, but I want to do that,” Potts says. During that visit, they also caught Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward’s “unmemorable play called Baby Want a Kiss. But I thought, ‘Is it possible that a little girl like me from a farm in Kentucky could have a goal to do this?’”

Summers were spent away from the farm at camp, where a drama instructor encouraged her to audition for the play. This teacher, Sylvia Barnard, saw the spark in Potts and cast her as the lead in Heidi.

Barnard attended every play Potts was in while earning her BFA at Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri. And she later saw her star pupil make it to Broadway in God of Carnage.

Potts was also in a Broadway revival of Pippin, where she swung upside-down from a trapeze wearing a bustier. That showstopper still makes her beam.

“It was such a fun challenge, though,” Potts recalls. “And I had a wonderful partner. I had this fabulous, strong, gentle, sweet guy from Cirque du Soleil, and he was like, ‘You can do anything! I got you.’ So, it was really fun. And you know, the audience just loved to see the old woman get on the trapeze.”

That self-awareness comes from being a woman who understands how the world works. Her sly intelligence layers each performance; it’s even evident when Potts voices Bo Peep in the Toy Story franchise.

And it shines through as Mary Jo in Designing Women. A feminist, and a single mom, Mary Jo was shafted by her husband after she put him through medical school. The 1986-1993 comedy about four women working in interior design tackled serious issues of the time: AIDS, abortion, and constant sexism.

Potts also had a deliciously tart role on GCB, a campy 2012 comedy originally titled Good Christian Bitches, that gave her the chance to strut around and say lines like: “I feel confident the good Lord would like me to have a new fur coat. God often speaks to me through Christian Dior.”

Over the course of a 47-year career, Potts accrued an Emmy nod for her work in Love & War and two SAG nominations for Any Day Now. At the moment, her work can be found on most streamers, broadcast TV, and in cinemas. Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire hit theaters in March, with Potts reviving the nasally assistant Janine Melnitz.

Her constant presence on television and in films means it’s not difficult to put yourself on a binge of Potts’ projects. Still, those jobs are all wrapped. She’s restless, tinged with a bit of sadness, anger, and the inevitable acceptance.

For now, the rest of us will catch up to where Potts has been, melancholy over the finale on Thursday night.

Still, the ride’s not over for fans of The Big Bang Theory and Young Sheldon. The spinoff of the spinoff, Georgie and Mandy’s First Wedding, following Sheldon’s older brother and his wife (Montana Jordan and Emily Osment), is slated for the fall. Recent episodes have concentrated on the couple.

Since Meemaw is also Georgie’s grandma, will Potts be back?

“Well, I’ve not formally been asked,” she says. “So, I mean, they’re like, ‘Well, we hope you’ll drop by.’ It’s like, ‘Well, OK, call my agent then!’ And they should know that. They, too, have just come off Sheldon, so maybe they don’t have a clear idea of what they want. But they are aware that I’m a workaholic and that I love them. They’re brilliant. And I would probably want to show up, but we’ll see. Who knows?”

Potts would do the right series, movie, or play, including Broadway, and is considering a one-woman play.

“Doing Sheldon really made me settle down for a minute, like seven years,” she says. “I couldn’t pursue that, but I’m unemployed now.”

So, somebody, again: Please, get Annie Potts a great job.

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