It was easy to be skeptical when this new incarnation of Roseanne was announced. Sure, all of the original cast that could return were coming back. But the fact that the show seemed to be, literally, pulled from the headlines, only seemed to add to the skepticism. After all, it's one thing to create characters that are germane to a story. It's another thing to check boxes to try and ensure relevancy.
However, a funny thing happened along the way. As this show went from announcement to reality, it was very hard not to get caught up in the excitement. There were tweets showing the cast, the original living room (well, as original as things can be in 2018), and the early footage of this show seemed like some uncovered, archeological find. The skepticism started to erode and suddenly it felt like it was the 1990s again!
And then the new episodes aired. Sure, it sorta felt like it was trying to check a lot of political boxes. However, nothing seemed forced. Nothing seemed out of character. Just like before, Roseanne tapped into the human condition like no other show EVER. I don't know what is more impressive. The fact that this show has garnered up to 25 million viewers or that it seems to have caught lightning. AGAIN.
However, Roseanne isn't perfect. It's not going to solve all the problems of the world. What it is doing is putting a mirror up to this very confused country and saying, "Hey, isn't it time we tried to make things great for EVERYBODY?" That is an idea that seems to drive the Conner family, and that is an idea that it seems anybody can get behind. Whether you are just a fan, or only here for the politics, Roseanne has something for you to watch.
It rights many wrongs.
When the show ended its first run in 1997, it left as a mess. A train-wreck of epic proportions. It was almost as if Roseanne Barr was paying all her loyal viewers back by completely screwing up this show. Characters were dying. The lottery was being won. The episodes were taking on an avant-garde flair. All of this would've been great if it had had nothing to do with Roseanne. This new version of Roseanne has none of that. It has the family (albeit older), storylines that make sense, and it appears to act, like many of us did long ago, as if the final season never happened. At least not in a serious way.
Dan is back.
This is something we knew as Roseanne went into production. Dan Conner (John Goodman), the man who died of a heart attack (this was revealed in the 9th season), was alive. There's no grand summoning. We don't open the new Roseanne with a seance. We start off with Roseanne Conner in bed, Dan appears, and the show is off to the races. Sure, John Goodman is older but so are we all, and again, we are treated to the father we all wanted. It just seemed like such a mistake to kill him off. For over 20 years, fans of the show had to live with this character being out of their lives. Well, he's back and just as great as we remember him being.
Whether you're left or right, there's something for you.
Roseanne Barr is an unabashed supporter of President Donald Trump. Roseanne Conner is a supporter as well. However, Roseanne isn't some pro-Trump show meant to turn Democrats into Republicans. Rather, this show skewers both sides and thank goodness it does. There are hard truths that we all need to hear. As was the case with All in the Family, you can be left or right, watch Roseanne, and laugh at the same thing for totally different reasons. We should be allowed to laugh at ourselves. During any time. Once we lose the ability to do that what are we but a bunch of self-serious blowhards who ultimately have nothing productive to say any way.
It tries really hard.
D.J. Conner (Michael Fishman) has a daughter named Mary (Jayden Rey) that's African American. Darlene (Sara Gilbert) has a son named Mark (Ames McNamara) who dresses like a girl. Toss in all the aforementioned politics, the references to Darlene being gay, and everything else going on with Roseanne, and there's the possibility that this show might look like it's TV clickbait. Then you watch Roseanne and all of the aforementioned plot points suddenly drive the story in a very realistic way. Roseanne has always worked best when it didn't go for schmaltzy or oddball endings. It was a show that thrived because it presented characters as they were. No grand solutions ever befell this family (ignore the lottery winning episode). Things for the Conner Family just were and that was all they needed to be. Watch and you will see...
It feels like an old shoe.
At first this might seem off-putting. In this day an age of smart TV, if something is too familiar it runs the risk of not being relevant. However, despite all the new characters, plot lines and everything else, Roseanne manages to not only bring back the magic but make it stay. Sure, Full House and One Day at a Time managed to pull of that special hat trick in their reincarnations, but are those shows really as irreverent and groundbreaking as Roseanne? It could be argued that the One Day at a Time airing now, is more risqué today then the version from 1975. The new Roseanne is both well worn and fresh. It really seems like a miracle that this show is not only back, but firing on all cylinders like only it can.
The actors are into it.
When it was announced that Roseanne Barr, John Goodman, Laurie Metcalf, Sara Gilbert, Alicia Goranson, and Michael Fishman would be reprising the roles they made iconic in Roseanne's first iteration, everybody was excited. However, amidst this excitement there was a tiny bit of hesitation. This show had been off the air for over 20 years. Would the actors still have it? Would the comic timing, delivery, and physical comedy still play? Would the chemistry amongst the family be there? Would those classic, illuminating family arguments still ring true? Based on the new episodes that have aired, these actors haven't missed a bit. The past is definitely the past but we are sure lucky to get this ensemble back in the present. Yet another reason to watch this special show.
It's actually great.
As an unabashed fan of the original Roseanne I would've been happy to see this original cast do ANYTHING. They literally could've sat on stools, in a bare room, and recited the Farmers Almanac and I would've been fine. So I am about as easy an audience for Roseanne as you're gonna find. However, a funny thing happened on the way to the DVR. This show actually turned out to be great. Not just good, not just good enough, but great on a level with anything this viewer has ever gotten from Roseanne before. Whether its the delivery of lines, the plots, or the business transpiring between these actors on the screen, Roseanne, after laying dormant for so long, has picked up without missing a beat.
It's necessary right now.
Roseanne was always great because it literally cut through all the crap. In this new version, we are able to see that Roseanne isn't any more a diehard Republican than Jackie is a bleeding heart Democrat. Rather, we are able to see these two actresses as PEOPLE. And, like it or not, they make cases for both of their sides. That is the reality pool that Roseanne swims in, that's how most Americans actually are, and that is why Roseanne is resonating with people the way that it is. The Conner family represents the better angels of our nature. It honestly feels like Roseanne is sounding a warning bell. As if to tell us that, sure, we may disagree, but we're a lot more alike than even we'd care to admit. Quite simply, this is must see TV of the highest order.
If you watched Roseanne in the 1990s you need to watch this new version of the show. It is that simple. Yes, there's a lot of shows on that are technically more sophisticated. Being on ABC, does hamstring the radical tendencies that Roseanne Barr and Co. bring to the table. At the same time, people know what they're getting with Roseanne. Executives, viewers, all of us... we know what this show is. Due that knowledge there is a certain degree of latitude that a show of this nature is afforded. Quite frankly, it's because of that latitude that we watch Roseanne. Sure, it's ultimately a simple situation comedy, but what goes on within that framework is the smartest kind of TV that there is.