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Why Brenda Sparks In Young Sheldon Looks So Familiar

The wild, big-hearted but sometimes completely unpredictable world of "Young Sheldon" is filled with a delightfully loony cast of characters who both aid and hinder the growing journey of future senior theoretical particle physicist — and current child genius — Sheldon Cooper (Iain Armitage), who is currently trying to deal with growing up in his small Texas hometown in the bosom of his semi-functional family.

Among that ensemble cast is Brenda Sparks, the bossy co-owner of the bowling alley where the Cooper family often hangs out. Brenda is a close friend of Meemaw (Annie Potts), but she and her ex-husband have an often-rocky relationship, because Brenda is not the sort of person who sits back and takes anything on the chin. Brenda raises her children, Billy (Wyatt McClure) and Bobbi (Mia and Ellen Allan), alone while trying to manage the lanes after her relationship with Herschel (Billy Gardell) ends in a divorce during Season 4. Though she and George Cooper Sr. (Lance Barber) have a somewhat flirtatious relationship, it hasn't culminated in an affair, in spite of the concerns of everyone around them ... yet. While Meemaw and Brenda are friendly, she and Mary Cooper (Zoe Perry) have an antagonistic relationship that's often sparked off by Brenda's sharp tongue. It eventually resolves, though, into a convivial friendship centered around their mutual concern for their kids.

The actress who plays Brenda will definitely be familiar to anyone who loves sitcoms. Here's why her face might be so memorable to you.

Melissa Peterman made a memorable first impression

Actress Melissa Peterman has built a solid career for herself as a comic voice, both onstage and onscreen. She got her start in regional theater, per Rotten Tomatoes, in a long-running production of "Tony 'N' Tina's Wedding" which had been performed continuously at Minneapolis' Hey City Theater for years. After working in improvisational theater, she was cast by the Cohen brothers in her first role.

That part was a small, but incredibly memorable: An appearance in the Oscar-winning film "Fargo." Peterman is one of two sex workers hired by Carl Showalter (Steve Buscemi) and Gaear Grimsrud (Peter Stormare) during their hapless flight from justice. Both of the sex workers are later interviewed by Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand) as part of Gunderson's ongoing investigation of a string of bloody murders. The two Minnesota-accented women provide Marge with some details of the evening they shared with Showalter and Grimsrud, but nothing too terribly helpful. It's Peterman who delivers the memorable line, "Go Bears!" while her character introduces herself to Marge. The scene involving the girls talking to Marge made it into the film's trailer and instantly made Peterman a recognizable figure.

25 years later on "The Jason Show" (via YouTube), reflecting on her experience making the film, Peterman spoke happily of getting to work on the movie, and acting with Buscemi and McDormand. She also confessed to giving her character a name: Chevrolet. Meanwhile, when talking to The Friendzy (per YouTube), the actress revealed that she had no idea she'd made it into the film's trailer until, while waiting tables at TGI Fridays, a customer recognized her.

Her work as Barbara Jean in Reba stole our hearts

After a guest appearance on "Just Shoot Me" and a supporting role as Sheila Cain, wife of Dean Carl Cain (Obba Babatundé) in the stoner comedy "How High," Peterman took on what might be her best-known role, joining the cast of "Reba" as Barbara Jean "BJ" Hart.

Her character plays a pivotal role in the show's premise, as obliviously cheerful dental hygienist BJ has an affair with her boss, Brock Hart (Christopher Rich). Life just gets messier when BJ gets pregnant, and Brock leaves his wife Reba (Reba McEntire) for BJ, while Brock and Reba's teenage daughter Cheyenne (JoAnna Garcia Swisher) also announces that she's pregnant by her football hero boyfriend, Van Montgomery (Steve Howey). One divorce and two shotgun weddings later, the Harts now must form a cohesive family from the shredded chaos that is their lives. In spite of the messy nature of their relationship, BJ desperately wants to be friends with Reba and a good stepmom to her kids. However, her best intentions often go awry, due to her total naivety. 

McEntire and Peterman have remained closely linked in the public's memory since "Reba" wrapped after its sixth season in 2007, though interestingly, the characters they play on "Young Sheldon" have never interacted on the program (Reba has appeared in six episodes as June, per IMDb). But McEntire and Peterman have since acted together on the sitcoms "Baby Daddy" and Peterman's "Working Class." Their relationship doesn't stop there. Per TV Line, the actresses will reunite for the Lifetime TV Movie "The Hammer," where they will play sisters — Peterman will play local madame Kris, while McEntire will play Kim, a lawyer assigned to a case that leads her to her sister's doorstep. 

Petermen felt the boom in this Kevin James comedy

While working on "Reba," Peterman put in a guest appearance on "Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide" and showed up in the movies "Recipe for Disaster" and "Cook Off!" Her most prominent big screen role after "Reba" concluded was in 2012's "Here Comes the Boom," where she played Lauren Voss, harried and put-upon sister-in-law to Kevin James' Scott Voss. Lauren and her husband, Eric (Gary Valentine) spar constantly and make life at home uncomfortable for Scott.

In the film, Scott throws himself into a bigger cause, when the school where he teaches biology threatens to cut their extracurricular programs due to a lack of funding. A former collegiate wrestler, Scott decides to become a mixed martial artist to raise the funds the school needs to keep going. Making it to the UFC will require the help of one of the members of his American Citizenship class, Niko (Bas Rutten), who takes to coaching him while Scott tries to help him finally become an American citizen. Along for the ride is Marty Streb (Henry Winkler), whose music program will be cut if Scott does not succeed. Scott also falls in love with comely school nurse Bella Flores (Salma Hayek) as his life and attitude changes thanks to his hard work.

Peterman pulled in some kudos for her role as Lauren. In Variety's review of the film, she is singled out for her work specifically. "Not nearly enough attention is given to a vitriolic domestic sidebar featuring Scott's brother, Eric (Gary Valentine), and his hellacious wife, Lauren (Melissa Peterman), who are flat-out funny," reviewer Scott Anderson said.

A series of sitcoms kept her star shining

Peterman appeared on a number of sitcoms before landing on a longer-lived series. She was Mrs. Muncie on three episodes of Bob Saget's ABC's short-lived "Surviving Suburbia." She then appeared on five episodes of Lifetime's "Rita Rocks," which starred Nicole Sullivan as the titular character, who balances her life as a mom and her work in a band. Then, Peterman headed up her own CMT sitcom, "Working Class." In it, she portrays Carli Mitchell, who has moved her small family to an upper-class home in the suburbs. She struggles to keep her kids in touch with their down-home roots while also trying to keep them financially solvent as she works in a deli. 

Though the supporting cast featured future "Better Call Saul" co-star Patrick Fabian in a major role as Carli's hunky boss and Ed Asner as Carli's co-worker, the series only lasted for one season before being cancelled.

Baby Daddy provided outrageous fun

Peterman's next major stop was on the ABC Family/Freeform sitcom "Baby Daddy," where she portrayed Bonnie Wheeler for 100 episodes (the show's entire run). The series lasted for six seasons and centered around freewheeling bachelor Ben Wheeler (Jean-Luc Bilodeau), whose world changes when he finds an infant named Emma abandoned on his doorstep. Ben learns that Emma is the result of a recently concluded romantic relationship and that her mother has abandoned her with Ben and his roommates. Ben chooses to take responsibility for his actions and raise Emma with a team of supporters, which includes his mom, Bonnie.

Bonnie is an imperfect mother. She became pregnant at seventeen and had to move in with Ben's father's family after her mother (Lonnie Anderson) kicked her out of the house. Even though Bonnie can be incredibly immature and flawed, she's always there for Ben and even his two roommates, Tucker Dobbs (Tahj Mowry) and his brother Danny (Derek Theler), as well as the object of Dan and Ben's mutual affection, Riley Perrin (Chelsea Kane). She eventually scores a romance of her own with Brad (Peter Porte) who proposes during Season 4, during which they also marry.

When asked by Hollywire (via YouTube) how much of her own status as a mom (per the interview, she has a young son) helped her dole advice out while on set, she said, "I do sort of feel like I'm the mom for everyone on set, just because I adore them so much."