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A terrifically intense dramedy which features possibly the most realistic familial unit in TV sitcoms, not to mention a marriage between Roseanne and Dan Connor (Roseanne Barr and John Goodman) which is pin-point exact, warm and right--and feels lived in. All non-believers have to do is watch a few episodes: the timing is deceptively shaggy yet perfect, the characters believable, their predicaments immediate. Fully realized by Roseanne herself, who never let her real-life chronicles get in the way of the show. The writing is continually sharp, with dialogue that frequently evokes whole lives, such as in the episode where Roseanne sits in a coffee house after hours talking to a tired waitress who confides about her late husband, "I miss him. It's so quiet. Sometimes I'll turn a football game on, turn it up real loud...and I hate sports. But what'ya gonna do?" Tender moments like this, seemingly throwaway bits, elude some viewers looking for a fast laughter fix; "Roseanne" was always something more, and it aches in laughter and in life's woes.
I must say that "Roseanne" has got to be by far one of my all-time
favorite television sitcoms. I watched it for its entire run on ABC
from 1988 to 1997, and still watch it in reruns on Nick at Nite. It was
a welcome departure from most family sitcoms of the time (i.e. Full
House, Family Matters, The Cosby Show). While interesting and diverse
(I watched them sometimes), these shows often lacked the portrayal of
the typically less than ideal realities of everyday life. "Roseanne"
was different in that it showed, to the extent possible, people as they
really are. It proved that working class people and families can make
you laugh. They don't have to be rich, blond, and thin to be funny.
Roseanne Barr plays Roseanne Conner, a hard-working, sarcastic, but lovable wife and mother who is never short of "telling it like it is." John Goodman plays her husband Dan Conner, tough but lovable to mom and the kids. Oldest daughter Becky is the most rebellious and loves boys. Middle child Darlene is the tomboy, and takes after Roseanne with her sarcastic wit. Youngest child DJ takes after his father. Along for the ride is Roseanne's younger unmarried sister, Jackie, played by Laurie Metcalf. While intelligent and well-meaning like Roseanne, Jackie is much more naive and gullible. Other characters include Crystal, who later marries Dan's father Ed. Roseanne and Jackie's mother Bev, the domineering, passive-aggressive guru, is a recurring character. Among many others, we also have Becky's boyfriend and later husband Mark, Darlene's boyfriend David, friend Nancy (Sandra Bernhard), and Roseanne's boss at the restaurant, Leon (Martin Mull). Jackie later gives birth to son Andy, and Roseanne and Dan have a son Jerry.
Over the years, Roseanne and Dan face many challenges that keep them on their toes. They bounce from one job to another before landing modest steady employment. Becky challenges them the most, especially when it comes to Mark. Darlene is similar when it comes to David. DJ keeps somewhat in the background in the early years, but becomes more prominent as he gets older. Jackie has many different careers and relationships, sometimes bizarre. The Conners lose more than they win, but through it all they "get by." This is why I enjoyed the show so much. It showed that life does not always go the way we want it to, unlike a lot of other shows, and we have to deal with this. But somehow we get by too!
While I did not enjoy the last season as much (it was too far removed from it's original objective), it still ranks up there on my list of favorites. People of all races, ethnicities, ability levels, creeds, sizes, orientations, etc are just like us. This is how life is and truly should be!
"Roseanne" is a milestone in TV sitcoms. It shows a lower class family realistically and the problems and issues they face. It dealt with (for the time) risky issues that you didn't see on TV often. I still remember quite a stir when two separate episodes dealt with one of the girls "becoming" a woman and the son of the family discovering how to "pleasure" himself. Also it had episodes dealing with abortion, gay characters, alcoholism, drug abuse, premarital sex, workplace and sexual harassment, how to deal with elderly parents... None of the characters were squeaky clean or perfect...they all had huge flaws and faults. But all of this was done with realism, great acting and a strong (if sometimes caustic) sense of humor. You saw the characters grow and change over the course of the 9 years it was on the air. It totally fell apart during the last season (egos were going out of control on the set) and ended horribly but the previous eight seasons were just fantastic. And the Halloween episodes were among the funniest ever done for a TV series. Just great all around. If you've never seen it, catch an episode or two--it's worth the effort.
Roseanne is the most dramatic comedy, without the bugging educating stuff. All the actors are great. Dialogues are real. Sure, the first seasons are better than the newer ones, but you still should see every episode with this fab family who likes to win first prize as "white trash". One of the only shows with the woman-wife at the center, Roseanne portrays one of the best and true mothers in tv- ever. Ever-changing, always in control Roseanne the woman has a great deal to be proud of this 9 seasons running wonderful tv sitcom.
Roseanne should be considered one of the best sitcoms in television
history as every classic show is a reflection of the times it
represents. Roseanne has been off the air for about a decade now, and
when I have a chance to watch it in syndication, I am always
entertained. Even the last season, which was a disappointment, has its
moments. It's also interesting to see how the characters evolved and
changed over the years. I could be wrong about the following comment,
but it seems somewhat obvious when Roseanne Barr was going through her
divorce to Tom Arnold. Her performance on the show was more biting than
usual during that particular season. Maybe it was the media,
expectation, or something else. Either way, a new dimension to the show
was added due to Barr's transformation (I believe it was Season 4 or
What really makes Roseanne stand out and keeps it in good company with other classic sitcoms is its blending of comedy and drama, often displayed in one scene. Elementally speaking, it reminds me of All in the Family, Maude, and Good Times, shows that defined showcasing dramedy in the 70s. Also, the performances were terrific. John Goodman was outstanding and underused as Dan. I look forward to when he is on screen. Sara Gilbert delivered a consistently excellent turn as Darlene, and then there's Roseanne Barr. She made her mark and did it well. Estelle Parsons was fantastic as Beverly, and Laurie Metcalf had some scenestealing moments as Jackie. These are talented performers giving us quality television to remember, along with the writers, director(s), producers, and everyone else involved in the project.
Anyone who finds Roseanne insulting, repugnant, and/or basically not worth watching may be missing the point of the show and the writing itself. Watch it again and really listen to the dialog. The characters are actually quite decent they are simply not idealistic in a society that craves moral fortitude yet has difficulty maintaining a core foundation these days. Ozzie and Harriet they're not, but then again, a classic show is a reflection of the times it represents. Hence... Roseanne. The show would fair even better today with our present economy.
Thanks to ABC for giving us Roseanne. We are the richer for it!
A highly original take on the tired genre of the American family sitcom.
the time, the gold standard was "The Cosby Show" and "Family Ties", both
upper-middle class and completely unrealistic. "Roseanne" was the first
high-quality sitcom since the Honeymooners to focus on working-class
families. This show took the idea of the 80s family show and stood it on
It took risks and chances that other shows were afraid to take, discussing subjects like homosexuality, child abuse, alcoholism, and teenage sexuality not just as one-show ideas, but as recurring themes. And though it wasn't successful all of the time, most of the time it was hilarious. I'd rather see a show take tremendous risks and fail than take the safe course and receive middling success.
The last couple of seasons were less than stellar, and the very last season was terrible and marked the first time that Roseanne hadn't been in the top 10 (or top 20) in the ratings consistently since it started. But overall, it had the guts to change its situation every once in a while (Roseanne had, I think, ten separate jobs in nine years) to shake things up and add new elements.
Roseanne was one of the funniest, most original programs on television for a long time. I recommend avoiding the last few years of the show; they're so maudlin and idiotic that they seem more like a (boring/stupid/insulting--take your pick!)parody of themselves than anything else. The actors sleepwalk through their lines as if they're fully aware of how stupid and poorly-written they are, and the last episode is ironically one of the WORST half-hours on TV! (Sort of mirrors the downfall of the Simpsons, really--why can't these wonderful shows just quit while they're ahead?) For a long time, Roseanne was a sweet and realistic portrayal of many American families--fraught with strife and struggle but loving all the same.
I was twelve years old when "Roseanne" came out, and vividly remember
it having such a huge impact on my family, as well as society as a
whole. For the first time, middle-class families could identify with
characters on a sitcom, and enjoy real life issues and problems being
handled with utmost care and realism.
What made "Roseanne" unique was its utter lack of vanity, superficiality, and unrealistic idealism. In the age of "The Cosby Show," and "Family Ties," Roseanne stormed in as an overweight, screaming mother who didn't always keep her house clean, didn't pay the bills on time, didn't always have the answer, and didn't keep her sexuality hidden. From the very first episode, viewers got to see a messy house, screaming kids who don't always listen, and parents who struggle with money, menial jobs, and weight issues. Finally, a real family on television! Can you think of another show where the female lead walks around the house with an xxx-large bright pink bathrobe, rollers in her hair, and can still be taken seriously? Whatever you might think of Roseanne personally (in terms of her public behavior), she never let it effect the quality of the show. The show benefited from WONDERFUL writing, a fantastic cast, and a pitch-perfect blend of comedy and drama. The show had some incredibly funny moments, combined with profoundly touching scenes that really played well on television; the show was never sappy, and stayed true to life. In my opinion, virtually every episode during seasons one through six, with rare exceptions, played out like thirty minute masterpieces. By seasons three and four, the show had reached perfection.
Roseanne acted her heart out on this show, and got better every year. She could always deliver a sarcastic one-liner like no other, but as the show progressed she managed the dramatic scenes with perfect accuracy. She managed to infuse her strong, sarcastic exterior with an incredible dose of heart and generosity. John Goodman had exceptional chemistry with Roseanne, and turned Dan into a hard-working, loving father that we all wish we could have. Laurie Metcalf's Jackie was, perhaps, the shows most complex character, and, in my opinion, the best actor of them all. She could take even mundane lines and turn them into hysterical comedy. Metcalf turned Jackie into a cool, sympathetic character you always wanted around. The sister relationship between Roseanne and Jackie was perhaps the most realistic ever portrayed on TV.
The kids of the show were also exceptional. I remember watching Darlene when I was a kid/teenager, and thinking "finally, a realistic depiction of a teenager." The iconic Darlene was a tomboy, depressed at times, and certainly not your typical happy, popular, beautifully perfect character. She had many challenges, emotions, and Gilbert pulled them all off with complete ease. Darlene was a hero to anybody who felt like they didn't fit in. Becky was the whiny, spoiled brat of the bunch, played beautifully by Lecy Garonson; she never hit a false note. Sarah Chalke, on the other hand, was sub par, and really should never have been cast as a replacement. Even DJ, the youngest of the bunch, had some incredible one-liners, and managed to be completely real.
Overall, this show goes down as a masterpiece; it's exactly what a TV show should be: Hysterically funny, profound, insightful, relevant, and, above all, completely entertaining.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Season 1 - You can see Roseanne and the cast struggle in the first few
episodes trying to get accustomed to ensemble comedy versus her
stand-up routine, however the show improves very rapidly and has some
great individual episodes.
Season 2 - This marks the first of the very best seasons of the series, with the acting and writing in all episodes being top-notch. A big theme in this year's show is Roseanne trying to find stable employment after she walked off of her factory job at the conclusion of season one. I especially like how this season handled the real-life issue of what happens to a person like Roseanne who has only a high school education when she loses a factory job that does not provide any experience in doing anything that another employer would find valuable.
Season 3 - Season three of Roseanne doesn't revolve around any particular overriding story arc, but the kids are definitely beginning to grow up. The late Glenn Quinn first appears as rebel and smart-mouth Mark Healey in "Becky, Beds, and Boys". I liked how Mark was portrayed in these early seasons when he was "Rebel Without a Cause" as opposed to the last three seasons when he was transformed into "Rebel Without a Clue".
Season 4 - Season Four of Roseanne has some of the best individual episodes as well as the best overall storyline of any of the show's nine seasons. The season opens with the Conners having opened their motorcycle shop on their own after irresponsible friend Ziggy ran out on them at the last minute last season. This season probably does the best job of combining great comedy, hard-hitting drama, and highlighting situations that should look familiar to any member of the middle class. Although this is not the last of the good seasons of Roseanne, I would say season four is the last of the golden years of that series, and definitely worth viewing.
Season 5 - The season starts out on a very morose note that corresponds to the deep recession the country was suffering when these shows aired in 1992. Dan's motorcycle shop is failing and will have to be closed in order for him to salvage the mortgage on the Conner home. Rodbell's, the diner in the mall where Roseanne has worked for two years, is closing too, due to business in the mall being so bad. Becky elopes with boyfriend Mark and moves to Minnesota, since with the closing of Dan's shop, Mark is unemployed too, plus Becky's college fund has been depleted to pay household bills. This opens up a crevice in Becky and Dan's relationship that takes months to heal. I compliment the show for incorporating the very bad recession going on in 1992 into the storyline. However, the Conners' troubles came on very suddenly and were resolved with a very pat answer.
Season 6 - Although this season has some excellent episodes, and overall is a five star season, we begin to see the start of some of the trends that eventually becomes the downfall of the series. It seems that this is the beginning of a trend in "Roseanne" where men tend to be disposable. Jackie becomes pregnant by one of Dan's coworkers - "Fred" - who is never even given the courtesy of a last name, and Mark, previously depicted as an independent-minded and able mechanic is now portrayed as someone who can't even make passing grades in trade school.
Season 7 - Season 7 still has enough good episodes and even some great ones for it to be worthwhile viewing, but it is definitely the beginning of the end. Roseanne begins one of the longest pregnancies in the history of television this season - thirteen months plus the time Roseanne has been pregnant before she announces the news. The whole issue of the broken romance between David and Darlene and its resolution is one of the best parts of the season. One of the worst parts of the season is the Thanksgiving episode when Roseanne's pregnancy looks like it might be in trouble. She screeches at both DJ and Dan every time they offer an opinion as if they are trying to tell her what to do instead of the possibility that they just want to comfort her and lighten the load. Jackie tires of Fred, whom she married less than a year before, and promptly disposes of him. After a few obligatory appearances in Season 8 he disappears entirely as though he had never existed in the first place.
Season 8 - This season you have to really pick through episodes full of fantasy, inane slapstick, and politically correct undertones to get to the truly good blue collar slice-of-life episodes that made up the majority of episodes in prior years. The biggest problem with season eight is that Roseanne never did fantasy episodes well during any season, and this season is full of them. It was particularly sad to see what became of the Halloween episode this year, always a Roseanne staple. Gone are the outrageous costumes and the clever pranks of previous years. They have now been replaced by a circus of the absurd and the bizarre.
Season 9 - Many people did not like the ninth season of Roseanne, but in its totality, I found it fascinating. The main problem was that it was clumsily written and directed. You have to look at this season in the context of Roseanne's actual life. By 1996, Roseanne herself had not been living a blue-collar lifestyle for over a decade. It was probably much easier for Roseanne to do something she knew - play a woman with a blue-collar background who comes into sudden wealth. Just prepare yourself for more than a few cringe-worthy moments of TV viewing.
When this show first debuted in 1988, I thought it was one of the worst shows to debut on TV back then. The kids were bratty, Roseanne's voice was aggravating-the list seemed to go on. A few years later, when the reruns started airing in the late afternoon, I really started appreciating the show for what it was: A family just trying to get by, and solve the problems that come up in everyday life. Along with this, Roseanne's witty "one-liners", and "off-the-cuff" humour, really made this show special. This show dissappeared for a couple of years here in Toronto, but it has been picked up again and is still as funny as it was when it first aired.
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