My Thoughts on Roseanne, a Memoir by Mary Alice

I have been fighting the urge to engage in actual gun control debates with the remaining two or three friends who are openly opposed to gun control over the last few weeks because I've found that such engagement is rarely worthwhile and usually ends up eating my entire day and making me very sad and I am not in the mood for that right now. So I chose to engage with a stranger on a friend's post about Roseanne and got pretty much the same result, so I'm not going to talk about Roseanne on other people's posts about it either but want to share my thoughts here.


When I found out about the reboot, I was immediately going to refuse to watch it because of Roseanne's well-documented support of Trump during the campaign (which I suppose is probably ongoing). I am not on Twitter (unless I want to complain about Montogomery County bus service), so I don't have the details of other ramblings of hers but learned today that she's an outspoken transphobe and was reminded today that she's a Pizzagater. All that said, after reading a handful of very positive reviews and considering that Roseanne is not a writer, just an actor (who admittedly probably has some creative control over plot points and dialog), my curiosity ended up getting the better of me last night and I was a little excited to see how it turned out. I still have cable and am not a Nielsen family (is that still a thing?) so my viewership means nothing. If I were actively supporting Roseanne by watching the first two episodes, I would not have done so.


Now that my curiosity has been satisfied, I think the only option now is to kill it with fire. It's not good. It's taken me this long to try and organize my thoughts about it.


I'll start with the good:


The A plot of the second episode had Roseanne's grandson starting school in Lanford and insisting that he should wear bright colors and a sequin skirt to school. I thought the way Darlene talked to her son about it was really genuinely nice. The tolerance Roseanne-the-character showed, despite not really understanding why the kid was doing such things was realistic and sensitive.


I think a tiny handful of the jokes made me chuckle. There were some about coming to terms with Darlene being gay (the character isn't) as a signal of tolerance were pretty funny but I don't even remember the other ones.


I was disappointed in how the political differences between Jackie and Roseanne were handled. These were the differences that most people were keyed in on. Jackie's character is like, Season 9 Jackie on steroids. She's more flighty and seems to signal all of the stereotypes associated with white feminism. ALL OF THEM. These jokes felt like they were about a year too late, which is actually more current than most of the one-liners which felt moldier than a lot of cracks from the original series (e.g., Dan thinks potpourri is food?). The Trump stuff is 100% standard fare. Roseanne justifies her vote because he said he'd shake things up and he was talking about jobs. I'm not impressed.


One of the biggest problems I had when I heard about Roseanne-the-Character being a Trump supporter was that in the original series, she'd always been fairly progressive. Staunchly anti-racist and homophobic. I don't think *that* Roseanne would be able to look past these aspects of the Trump presidency, but the show DOUBLED DOWN on the conservative bent and had the family praying before eating dinner, when in the original series, the Conners were extremely religiously ambivalent. Becky, in a side plot that barely made sense, is being paid $50k to be a surrogate mother (despite being 43). Dan wouldn't have it. Said something about how in this household "when we get pregnant we have the baby" is if it was a love child or something. To a 43 year old woman. To which Jackie almost retorted "her body her choice" which was a weird thing to invoke and really I can't even explain why because fuck all of that. It was terrible.


The acting was bad, almost across the board. It's clear most of them aren't actors anymore. Even John Goodman was pretty terrible. Again, I thought Sara Gilbert was great. She seemed engaged and to be believing the things she was saying. Everyone else was either way over-doing it, including Laurie Metcalf, or was flatly reading lines like they were just trying to get through it.


Other miscellaneous things that annoyed me:


Michael Fishman is 10 feet tall now and they shoehorned into the pilot a reference to DJ's military service and his offscreen wife who is still away in the military (Jackie of course keeps saying "thank you for your service").


We all knew that Becky II was playing "some role." She's the woman paying Becky I to be a surrogate mother for her. She's a yuppie and bought the Conners bottled water as a gift. Bottled water as a gift. A gift. Follows it up with potpourri. With potpourri. (The same potpourri Dan thinks is food)


The politics in general is muddled and surprisingly de-fanged. It seems like they're trying to say "this is real America" without *actually* pissing either or both side off. Like, they complain about the cost of medical care but don't point any specific finger, which I don't think is accurate? I guess? I'd think in the original series, they would be more direct about that kind of criticism. Roseanne responded to one of Jackie's retorts about her Trump vote by pointing out that things have gotten worse since Trump was elected and Roseanne said "not according to the real news" (or something), which got a chortle but no real challenge or engagement on that point? I don't know.


We will file this under Stop Watching Now to Preserve Enjoyment of the Original.