So I am a little late to the party, or maybe on time with the recent cancellation, but I finally saw the Roseanne reboot. What did I think of it??? Well it’s…well…
So I am a big fan of the original show. In fact, in terms of American Television, I think it should be put up there with the greats like Breaking Bad, Seinfeld, and Twin Peaks.
Roseanne was and still is funny, dark, and extremely well written except Season 9 which didn’t exist in the same way that The Last Airbender movie didn’t exist nor X-Men Origins: The Wolverine. The show nails an atmosphere and identity that is completely its own. The soundtrack still rings in my ears to this day. And Roseanne Barr gave such an underrated performance. I don’t think people really appreciate just how funny she was in the original Roseanne.
Despite the annoying voice, she brought about a relatability and realism to the show in both the writing and acting. Although in order not to deify Roseanne Barr, I will say a lot of it was helped by a strong creative team. We are talking about a dream team of comedic writers. We are talking about early Joss Whedon, Norm Macdonald, Amy Sherman-Palladino (of Gilmore Girls fame), and many others.
So Roseanne is a fantastic show. I hope this two-paragraph blurb will suffice for now and will hopefully push you into checking the show out. It still holds up in my humble opinion.
But now we got this new show. And I will admit, it has some compelling components. Mark is a likable addition to the cast and John Goodman’s performance as Dan is somehow even better that it was 20+ years ago. There were some little nods to the old show that weren’t obnoxious and were actually quite clever. Some of the nonpolitical story arcs are fine to say the least and play well into the 20-year gap the show is trying to do. All in all, it had some potential to be just as great as the old show. But there is one thing that hurts the show for me and it’s the same person that made original great in the first place, and that is Roseanne herself.
Do you guys remember the book Go Set a Watchman? It is a sequel to the almost universally critical acclaimed book To Kill A Mockingbird.
If you are unfamiliar in what I am about to talk about. All I will say to catch you up is that the iconic lawyer, Atticus Finch, went from the pedestal of morality by defending a black man in 1930s “racist” America to becoming a product of the 1950s “racist” America.
That being said, I find that idea rather fascinating (in theory). I do find that drastic shift in political ideologies could make for some interesting characterization. But in practice, it leads to a jarring shift that I haven’t really seen until I watch fucking Roseanne of all things.
Roseanne Connor, especially at the time, was a very forward-thinking character. She wasn’t Bernie Sanders, but she promoted a tremendous step towards LGBT+ acceptance, women’s rights, and women’s independence.
Yet this Roseanne Connor, the one we see today, is now a product of 2010s “everything that is wrong with” America, A character that is afraid of Muslims and voted for Trump. It is not as extreme as Go Set a Watchman, but it’s disorientating nonetheless.
This shattered my immersion for me. I couldn’t buy that Rosanne, the character, would shift into these xenophobic tendencies or that she would believe one iota of a politician’s promise to create more jobs, especially when that politician is Donald Trump.
It doesn’t help how on the nose the writing is. I felt like I was watching a PSA half the time. Mediocre on a regular scale but completely shameful when compared to the original show.
Much like Go Set a Watchman, the problem is that there is not really an in-between stage that could really make a person understand why Roseanne shifted so drastically. All we get is a razor thin motivation that we are expected to accept by the end of the pilot episode. What was a rather realistic show about a middle-class family in Illinois now feels like an almost surrealist show because the drastic shift of one character.
It’s a shame too, because there is some good in there. It may not be as funny as the original, but it is trying something culturally different than most sitcoms by capturing some of the grounded nature of the original show. At least it has some freaking enthusiasm compared to the Big Bang Theory and the later seasons of Modern Family.
So to close my thoughts in a quick summary, the show is fine. It is a bit sloppier and a bit jarring, but it wasn’t a waste of time. I may be the only millennial that actually cares about this show since my generation is probably watching let’s see *checks google* ‘13 Reasons Why Season 2, ewww.’
But I think Roseanne reboot operates better as a case study more than a satisfying watch. I don’t think it retains the same power as the original, and Roseanne’s political shift is too disorientating for me. I’d rather have people watched the original over this reboot.
It will never reach the epic dumpster fire that is Season 9 which is oddly comforting.
Like I said before, it had potential which is why the recent cancellation is a bit tragic. It’s understandable don’t get me wrong, but it’s disappointing nonetheless.