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Why I love Roseanne
The middle class may still be around, even if some are only hanging on by a thread. But on TV, shows portraying the middle class have virtually disappeared. Today, we are bombarded by reality shows about the rich and famous showcasing people who are nothing like the typical American family.
But Roseanne gave us a weekly dose of reality mixed with humor, and I think we were better off for it. Her show grounded us and, for many, made our lives actually look pretty good compared to hers.
For instance, in the show’s pilot, the oldest daughter Becky is taking cans of food to school for a food drive and says it’s for “poor people,” and Roseanne quips back, “Well tell ‘em to drive some of that food over here!”
Unfortunately, Roseanne probably has more relevance and “realism” in today’s economy than back when the show first aired. Roseanne was recently quoted in Entertainment Weekly saying, “I’m very proud of it’s timelessness and, you know, the fact that it has a political edge; that it is even more relevant now than it was then.”
I couldn’t agree more. Families like the Conner’s who live paycheck to paycheck are rarely, if ever, seen on television today. The ironic thing is her sitcom is probably more realistic than half of the “reality” shows dominating television right now.
Roseanne dealt with every day, real issues that were taboo for television. Some of the topics included financial difficulties, substance abuse, mental and physical abuse, abortion, depression, and feminism. Roseanne was also the first family sitcom to show a woman, not a man, in charge of the household. In addition, Roseanne brought gay characters to the forefront of American television and paved the way for them on TV. It was a groundbreaking show that was truly ahead of its time. It remains timeless, even to this very day.
Roseanne also benefited from having a phenomenal cast, which included John Goodman as Dan Conner, Sara Gilbert as Darlene Conner, and my personal favorite, the ever-so fabulous Laurie Metcalf as Aunt Jackie (Laurie won 4 Emmys and was nominated a total of 7 times). Roseanne Barr also won an Emmy for her role as Roseanne Conner.
So although the last two seasons were (for the most part) lackluster; at Roseanne’s peak (seasons 4 & 5), it was the funniest, most well-written, socially relevant sitcom of all-time.
Roseanne Barr sums it up best in her A&E television biography saying, “I was televisions probably first, last, and only woman whoever did exactly what I wanted to do, week after week, despite everybody being alarmed, pissed off, and against. I still did it!”