Roseanne gets the chair

Roseanne Barr’s not pleased with how her character bowed out on the premiere of The Conners last night.

Within the first few minutes of the spinoff series, fans learned that Roseanne’s character had passed away after getting knee surgery. But while the Conner family initially believed it was from a heart attack, a call from the coroner reveals that Roseanne actually had opioids in her system and overdosed on the night of her death.

Roseanne had previously expressed frustration with the choice to “kill her off” in this manner in an interview on Brandon Straka’s Youtube Show. But to drive home her point last night, the former TV star hopped online to tweet “I AIN’T DEAD B—-ES!!!!”

Later on, she tweeted a link to a statement on Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s Facebook page (who happens to be her rabbi). In it, she makes a case for why she believes ABC was wrong in choosing to have Roseanne die from an overdose. She also calls the network out for not forgiving her after her racist tweets at former presidential advisor Valerie Jarrett prompted the cancelation of the Roseanne reboot.

“That it was done through an opioid overdose lent an unnecessary grim and morbid dimension to an otherwise happy family show,” the statement began before declaring that ABC should’ve given her a second chance.

It continues: “After repeated and heartfelt apologies, the network was unwilling to look past a regrettable mistake, thereby denying the twin American values of both repentance and forgiveness.”


— Roseanne Barr (@therealroseanne) August 25, 2018

In the end, Roseanne makes it clear that she believes the cancelation of her show was “an opportunity squandered due in equal parts to fear, hubris, and a refusal to forgive.”

Roseanne remarks aside, many on Twitter also seemed upset with the way they chose to have the matriarch die. Some thought ABC was not giving drug addiction the appropriate sensitivity the topic deserves, while others expressed that the plot appeared to be an unnecessary final jab at Roseanne.

When talking with Good Morning America, John Goodman admitted that everything was a bit off not having Roseanne around while filming.

“The first week was really weird. It was like there was a death in the family. We really missed her a whole lot,” he explained before promising viewers that the new series aims to tell “the same, honest stories” that fans of the original sitcom loved so much.

Catch The Conners on ABC at 8 p.m. Tuesday nights.

Kayla Keegan News and Entertainment Editor Kayla Keegan covers all things in the entertainment, pop culture, and celebrity space for Good Housekeeping.

How ‘The Conners’ Cast Channeled Roseanne Barr’s Exit Into “Honest” Premiere

The cast of ABC’s The Conners is still mourning the loss of Roseanne Barr’s character.

After it was revealed on the Roseanne spinoff’s season one premiere that Roseanne Conner died of an opioid overdose following knee surgery, executive producer Tom Werner and Barr’s former co-stars shared their thoughts about the TV matriarch’s fatal exit.

“I think it was important that we all be respectful of Roseanne Conner and Roseanne Barr. And we talked about it,” Werner said during a Tuesday night Paley Center panel in New York. “First of all, what made the show work last year for us, obviously, we had an extraordinary ensemble cast. But what made the show work for us is that we were touching on themes that were very relevant for our audience. This is a show about a working-class family that is very identifiable to the audience.”

As seen in Tuesday night’s inaugural episode, titled “Keep on Truckin,” the Conners initially believe that Roseanne died in her bed at home of a heart attack post-surgery. However, an autopsy reveals that Barr’s character overdosed on prescription drugs, a fact that Dan (John Goodman) struggles to accept.

The Conner family later discovers stashes of opioids, obtained by Roseanne on the black market, throughout her home. The first and only season of the Roseanne reboot showed Barr’s character developing an opioid addiction as she popped pills to manage the pain and discomfort of her problematic knee. According to the CDC, more than 72,000 Americans died of opioid overdoses in 2017, an issue that Werner wanted to “shed more light on” with The Conners.

“Obviously, if you had seen the show last year, Roseanne Conner was struggling with drug ,” Werner continued. “This is a problem that has affected tens of thousands of people. Eighty thousand people died last year dealing with opioid addiction and overdoses, so this was a challenge that Roseanne Conner was dealing with last year.”

He added: “I don’t want to get too heavy, but I think this was an honest and authentic way of dealing with Roseanne Conner.”

Before the panel — which included Werner, Goodman, Sara Gilbert (Darlene), Lecy Goranson (Becky), Michael Fishman (DJ) and Maya Lynne Robinson (Geena) — Fishman spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about the death of his TV mom.

“Trying to find the right way . There is no perfect way to lose someone, ever. It was important that we be honest and acknowledge that. It was also important try to find something that fit with , but also fit what’s going on in the world around us,” Fishman said. “Tom Werner and the writers were able to take something that’s very timely and utilize that to hopefully make a statement and to help bridge the gap with what’s going on right now in society.”

During the panel, which kicked off following a live screening of the Conners premiere, Gilbert said she and her co-stars were able to channel the heartbreak they felt over Barr’s absence — she was fired by ABC for making racist comments online — into their performances.

“What ended up happening is we wanted to make a really honest episode, and channel whatever we were feeling into the episode,” Gilbert said. “I think every family, at some point, goes through losing their matriarch, so we got the chance to tell that story, and I think it aligned with some of the emotions we were feeling and we were able to put into the show.”

Showrunner Bruce Helford previously explained that Barr wanted to explore the issue of affordable health care in America when they crafted the opioid-centered storyline for the revival of her beloved sitcom. “She wanted to deal with health care in America. She had a knee problem — it’s better now — that spurred the whole thing,” Helford told THR in March. “She said, ‘What would Roseanne Conner do?’ She couldn’t afford the deductible for surgery, so where does she turn to be able to get through work and everything else?”

But, during a recent interview with conservative activist Brandon Straka on his YouTube show Walk Away, Barr expressed her disappointment in the way her character was written out. “I wanted to show it on the show,” Barr said of her character’s addiction. “But I was never going to have Roseanne die of an opioid overdose. It’s so cynical and horrible. She should have died as a hero or not at all.”

Not long after The Conners made its debut, Barr responded to the premiere episode with the following tweet:” I AIN’T DEAD, BITCHES!!!!”

Roseanne was swiftly canceled in late May, hours after Barr posted a racist tweet aimed at Valerie Jarrett, in which the actress compared the former Obama aide to an ape. As has been previously reported, ABC would not consider any sort of Roseanne spinoff if it meant that Barr would receive any financial compensation. Once Barr agreed, The Conners was able to move forward — which allowed hundreds of below-the-line employees keep their jobs after they were unexpectedly hit by the network’s decision to cancel the show due to its star’s online controversy.

The Conners airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on ABC.

Thomas Rhett to perform at BB&T Pavilion

The much anticipated “Roseanne” spinoff, “The Conners,” aired last night on ABC. After months of speculation, the spinoff concluded the matriarch’s storyline with a death that very conveniently aligned the show’s finale.

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In the finale of “Roseanne,” we saw Roseanne Barr’s character afraid of dying as she approached her upcoming knee surgery. The premiere, “Keep on Truckin’,” takes place three weeks after the finale. The family believes she passed from a heart attack following the surgery, but the autopsy reveals that she in fact died from an opioid overdose. We see Dan (John Goodman) struggling to accept his wife’s addiction, believing she had thrown the pills out. But soon, Becky (Lecy Goranson) and Jackie (Laurie Metcal) find two different stashes of pills.

An hour after the premiere aired, Barr took to Twitter to exclaim, “I AIN’T DEAD BITCHES!!!!”


— Roseanne Barr (@therealroseanne) October 17, 2018

Barr mentioned in an interview a month ago with Brandon Straka on the conservative YouTube channel, Walk Away, she knew how the character was going to die. She was planning to show her character’s opioid addiction on “Roseanne.” She just didn’t want the character to die to due to her addiction.

“I was never going to have Roseanne die of an opioid overdose. It’s so cynical and horrible. She should have died as a hero or not at all,” Barr said.

She released a lengthy statement with Rabbi Shmuley Boteach on Wednesday morning. Barr gave her well wishes to the cast and crew, but dove deep into the controversy of her firing and asking for forgiveness.

The “Roseanne” reboot was canceled in May following a slew of racist tweets by Barr. The comedienne relinquished her rights in order for the new series to move forward.

While a number of people took to Twitter to claim their disdain for the reboot without Barr, “The Conners” wasn’t a flop. It retained a 10.4 million viewership for the premiere, which was the viewership average for the final four episodes of “Roseanne.”

“The Conners” was given a 10-episode order by ABC. The show airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on ABC.

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How Should I Rewatch the Original ‘Roseanne’?

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Glance at the current TV listings, and you may think you’ve time-traveled back to the ’90s, with “Full House,” “The X-Files” and “Will & Grace” all airing new episodes in the past year. On Tuesday, ABC’s era-defining family sitcom “Roseanne” joins the nostalgia fest with a two-episode premiere of its first new season since 1997. True to form, the revival looks to be very much of its time: Its acerbic matriarch, played by Roseanne Barr, is a Trump supporter; her grandson is gender-fluid.

“Roseanne” cranked out 222 episodes during its original nine-season run. So, the prospect of revisiting Roseanne and her clan in advance of their comeback can seem daunting. Luckily, it only takes a few episodes to understand what made this love letter to the working-class American family so special.

This selection of highlights represents “Roseanne” at its smartest, funniest, and most poignant, and you should easily be able to get through these 22-minute episodes before the show returns at 8 p.m. on Tuesday. All the original episodes are available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.

Roseanne Barr and John Goodman in the “Roseanne” episode “Life and Stuff.”ABC, via Getty Images

“Life and Stuff”

Great sitcoms don’t always start with great pilots. (See: “Seinfeld.”) But the first episode of “Roseanne” is wonderful, thanks to the immediate chemistry between Roseanne Barr and John Goodman, who plays Roseanne’s husband, Dan. There’s a lovely warmth to the Conners’ marriage, whether they’re flirting, fighting or just making each other laugh. The premiere also features a young George Clooney, in his first appearance as Roseanne’s boss at the plastics factory.

“Let’s Call It Quits”

Roseanne isn’t a big fan of her boss — until a new supervisor arrives, jacks up production quotas and starts calling his female employees “sweetie.” When Roseanne confronts him about his unreasonable demands, he agrees to ease up if she’ll start respecting his authority. The episode, which could easily have aired in 2018, smartly tackles class and gender in the workplace without devolving into over-earnestness.

John Goodman in the “Roseanne” episode “BOO!”ABC

“Inherit the Wind”

The Season 2 premiere has a very simple, very funny premise: Becky (Lecy Goranson), the eldest and most self-conscious Conner sibling, passes gas during a student council meeting. Of course, along with all of the other popular kids, the boy who’s supposed to take her out on a date that night is in attendance. Many inspired fart jokes follow, but the best thing about the episode is the way it balances that humor with empathy for teens and their fragile sense of self-esteem.


Some family comedies are famous for their Thanksgiving shouting matches or their heartwarming Christmas specials, but the Conners aren’t your average sitcom clan. Roseanne and Dan are Halloween people, and in the show’s inaugural celebration of the spooky holiday, the kids look on in mild mortification as their parents take turns scaring the pants off each other.

“One for the Road”

When Becky mixes up a batch of cocktails to impress a study buddy, both girls end up very drunk. It’s up to Darlene (Sara Gilbert), Becky’s younger sister and primary antagonist, to cover for them — which she does, but not without unleashing a whole lot of teasing. The result is the first of many excellent episodes focused on the delicate bond between these two very different sisters.

“An Officer and a Gentleman”

This classic episode stands apart for two reasons: First, Barr barely made an appearance; second, it’s among the best in the series. With Roseanne off to visit her injured father, her daffy younger sister, Jackie (Laurie Metcalf), steps in to play mom and finds herself bonding with Dan. Although the show certainly isn’t the same without Roseanne’s one-liners, it’s a different kind of treat to see two actors as talented as Metcalf and Goodman play off one another.

Roseanne Barr in the “Roseanne” episode “Home-Ec.”ABC


Roseanne holds plenty of jobs over the course of nine seasons. But she also spends some time as a stay-at-home mom, an undervalued role that she proudly explains to Darlene’s class in “Home-Ec.” Although her daughter finds the Career Day speech humiliating, Roseanne is such a hit that she gets permission to take the students on a field trip to the supermarket, where they get a pithy lesson in how a working-class mother keeps her family fed.

Sara Gilbert and John Goodman in the “Roseanne” episode “Darlene Fades to Black.”ABC

“A Bitter Pill to Swallow”

I like to think of this season premiere as the origin story for Amy Sherman-Palladino (who went on to create the Golden Globe-winning “Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”). One of the many big-name showrunners who got their start on “Roseanne,” she helped write this episode when she was still Amy Sherman. As in “Gilmore Girls,” Sherman-Palladino’s first hit, the mother-daughter bonding quotient here is high. When 17-year-old Becky asks her mom for help getting birth control, Roseanne struggles to reconcile her feminist beliefs with an instinct to protect her kid.

“Darlene Fades to Black”

TV has made great strides in representing mental illness in the past few years, but it wasn’t always so sensitive to those issues. In that respect, as in many others, “Roseanne” was ahead of its time with this 1991 episode about Darlene’s depression. Without getting too dark, the show paints a realistic portrait of a teen who suddenly loses her enthusiasm for school, family, sports and her social life — and two parents who desperately want to help her but don’t know how.


When “Roseanne” ended its fourth season, in May of 1992, the United States was recovering from a recession, and the unemployment rate was higher than it had been since the early ’80s. The show addressed that crisis with a wrenching finale that illustrates the real impact of economic flux on a family that’s trying to live the American dream while surviving from paycheck to paycheck. First, Roseanne loses her job as a diner waitress as Dan’s bike shop hemorrhages money. Then the Conners realize they don’t have the money to send Becky to college.

Roseanne Barr, left, and Laurie Metcalf in the “Roseanne” episode “Crime and Punishment.”ABC

“Terms of Estrangement: Parts 1 and 2”

This two-part season premiere takes place in the aftermath of the episode “Aliens,” as Dan is forced to close his business, Roseanne combs the obituaries for job leads and Becky blows up at her father for leaving her boyfriend and his former mechanic, Mark (Glenn Quinn), unemployed. In their unflinching refusal to offer easy solutions to the Conners’ plight, these episodes use searing gallows humor to convey the pain of feeling responsible for your children’s broken dreams.

“Crime and Punishment” and “War and Peace”

In another great two-part story, the Conners reckon with violence against women — and the destructive cycles it can perpetuate. When Darlene discovers that Jackie’s boyfriend has been hitting her, a family-wide reckoning ensues. As Roseanne pressures Jackie to leave him, the sisters are forced to confront their very different responses to having grown up with an abusive dad.

“Wait Till Your Father Gets Home”

Roseanne’s and Jackie’s complicated feelings toward their father resurface in this emotional episode, which takes place in the aftermath of his death. After Jackie bristles at her sister’s lingering contempt for him, Roseanne searches for some sign that he regretted hitting his kids. What she learns raises poignant questions about how we mourn the people who hurt us.

John Goodman and Roseanne Barr in the “Roseanne” episode “A Stash From the Past.”ABC, via Everett Collection

“A Stash From the Past”

Many “Roseanne” highlights veer into “Very Special Episode” territory, so the show’s take on marijuana is refreshing. When Roseanne finds a bag of weed in the house, she assumes it belongs to Darlene’s boyfriend, David (Johnny Galecki), and gives him the standard sitcom “You’re ruining your life” lecture. Then Dan realizes that the bag is actually Roseanne’s from way back when, and … they relive their youth by getting high with Jackie. The scene in which Barr, Goodman and Metcalf are stoned in the bathroom is among the funniest moments in TV history.

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

“Roseanne” helped break ground for L.G.B.T. representation with this episode from 1994, which was so provocative at the time that ABC almost didn’t air it. Roseanne and Jackie spend a night at the gay bar with their friend Nancy (Sandra Bernhard) and her girlfriend, Sharon (Mariel Hemingway, in a charming guest appearance). While Jackie worries people will think she’s a lesbian, Roseanne has a ball — until Sharon kisses her. Roseanne’s subsequent reckoning with her own internalized homophobia is years ahead of its time.

“Lies My Father Told Me”

Like Roseanne, Dan carries around plenty of baggage from childhood. So, when his beloved mother checks into a mental institution, he immediately blames the father who neglected, then left them when Dan was a kid. The story that develops from there is a remarkably generous meditation on how family narratives are shaped and whether it’s possible to repair a relationship that has been broken for decades.

From left, Fred Willard, Roseanne Barr and Martin Mull in the “Roseanne” episode “December Bride.”ABC, via Getty Images

It is widely acknowledged that “Roseanne” exceeded its natural life span by approximately three seasons. But even though they’re pretty wacky, Seasons 7 through 9 feature their share of fun episodes. With that in mind, here’s a quick selection of late-period “Roseanne” highlights for every kind of fan.

If you want to see the Conners reckon with racism, watch “White Men Can’t Kiss.”

If you wonder what “Roseanne” would look like as a 1950s sitcom, watch “The Fifties Show.”

If you like Jenna Elfman, “Thelma and Louise” or riot grrrl, watch “The Getaway, Almost.”

If you want to see television’s first gay wedding, watch “December Bride.”

If you want to watch Barr stick it to her Disney overlords, watch “Springtime for David.”

If you wonder what “Roseanne” would look like as a 1960s sitcom, watch “Call Waiting.”

If you’re an “Absolutely Fabulous” fan, watch “Satan, Darling.”

If you want to bawl your eyes out — and, potentially, have some context for the reboot’s inevitable jokes about the original two-part series finale — watch “Into That Good Night.”

The Roseanne revival, and the argument over how TV depicts Trump supporters, explained

For the near decade her show was on the air, Roseanne Barr seemed to not just court controversy but crave it.

After Roseanne became a hit, shortly after its debut in 1988, Barr took over for Matt Williams, the man credited as sole creator of a show obviously and heavily based on Barr’s standup (an original sin by Hollywood that Barr has never entirely forgiven the industry for), and routinely purged the show’s writing staff. Every behind-the-scenes story about Roseanne — even the ones Barr tells — is filled with fraught creative moments, with conflict, with headache and heartache.

But it didn’t stop there. She performed the national anthem somewhat irreverently and created a national dialogue about respect for the flag (a completely ridiculous one but one that, nonetheless, existed). She married Tom Arnold, a writer on the show, and became an endless fount of tabloid fascination. Every little thing she did became a national news story, until Roseanne inevitably began to soften in the ratings, and America moved on.

But through it all, the series itself was the foremost argument for Barr as a creative force to be reckoned with. While it was not the White Working-Class Sitcom — the show belongs to a tradition stretching back to The Honeymooners and, even before that, radio comedy — it was one of the few on the air in its era, and one of the last to thrive before TV comedy got taken over by upper-class white folks who never seemed to worry about money. Roseanne was tough and honest and occasionally incendiary, and it could pivot from very, very funny to very, very heartbreaking on a dime.

So it should come as no surprise that the new Roseanne — technically a continuation of the original series, but also a different show in some subtle ways — would reignite this old debate between where Roseanne the actress ended and Roseanne the character began. Except, because this is 2018 and everything eventually turns into a discussion about Donald Trump, the political polarity has been completely flipped. The arguments now are less about Roseanne’s bold examinations of feminism and class both on and offscreen and more about how she’s perhaps the president’s most famous supporter.

These arguments have become a vast, interlocking set of controversies that are impossible to separate, because each is necessary to understand the other. For instance, writing off Roseanne entirely — because it homogenizes Trump supporters as people just worried about their families or the country — misses the ways the series depicts Roseanne as a hectoring bully who convinced her sister, Jackie, not to vote for Hillary Clinton at the last minute. (She voted for Jill Stein instead.) But praising Roseanne as a series about the self-delusions of Trump supporters misses the ways it refuses to talk about the harsh realities of living in Trump’s America for people who aren’t straight and white.

As with all uneasy meetings of art and politics, this is more complicated than we might like it to be because good art examines complication. But does Roseanne? Let’s unpack that question into five interlocking conflicts.

Conflict 1: Roseanne Barr vs. Roseanne Conner

Roseanne emerges. ABC

Sooner or later, every argument about Roseanne returns to this central point: How readily can you separate the real Roseanne from the character she plays on TV? And how much should you be asked to?

In a weird way, it’s a question that runs parallel to debates over great films or TV shows made by the many men accused of sexual misconduct. Separating art from artist, of course, is something that is going to vary from viewer to viewer. But what makes Roseanne even more complicated than, say, a terrific movie produced by Harvey Weinstein is just how much the character of Roseanne Conner is based on the former life circumstances of the real Roseanne Barr. The two have always been seen as the same, in the way that, say, Lena Dunham has routinely been conflated with Hannah Horvath, her character from Girls, but the two Roseannes have in fact been different in some crucial ways.

In the case of Roseanne (2018), it’s easy to imagine a version of the show that exists in a world where viewers had no idea Roseanne Barr was a die-hard Trump supporter because the actress had never talked about him on social media. And in that world, it would be easier to swallow this exact version of the series for those who believe support for Trump is a moral wrong because there would be more distance between the fictional Roseanne who supports Trump and the real one, whose politics we wouldn’t know.

But, of course, we don’t live in that world. We know not just that Barr is a Trump supporter but that she’s one who readily and easily adheres to over-the-top right-wing conspiracy-mongering; who considers going on the Fox News program Hannity, which has become a sort of clearinghouse for those very conspiracies; who mocks Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting survivors on Twitter.

Even if you take Barr at her word that she thought Trump should be president because he would shake up Washington — and sure, I’m inclined to — that defense overlooks the fact that an incredibly rich woman who never needs to work another day in her life unless she wants to would be relatively unaffected by the shake-up Trump was promising.

Barr has repeatedly avowed that she doesn’t believe Trump is a racist, that this is a picture the media has painted of him that is unfair. Sure, he might say some things that are uncouth, but don’t you want a president who isn’t afraid to say what he’s really thinking?

From the earliest days of her standup career, this is how Barr has seen herself, so it’s not hard to see how she would feel that connection to Trump. (It’s in some ways similar to other comedians of Barr’s generation who have complained about comedy becoming too “politically correct,” as old fallbacks of ’80s and ’90s standup that pivoted on supposedly inviolable aspects of race and gender are now routinely questioned as the basis for jokes.)

It is not unrealistic to believe that Roseanne Conner — mired in economic instability and longing for some sort of shake-up — might vote for Trump. Plenty of other white people in that situation did just that. And though the fictional Roseanne is a warmer figure than social media Roseanne, she’s still possessed of a kind of free-floating anger that the new series doesn’t always interrogate but also isn’t afraid to depict.

The new show is about having to deal with someone who holds these beliefs (in ways I’ll deal with momentarily), when you’re maybe just trying to live your life. You might still love your mom or sister, even if she believes some kooky things. What’s your responsibility to disabuse her of those ideas?

It remains to be seen if this new Roseanne will challenge its title character on these beliefs, but the original series, produced at a time when Barr had far more cultural cachet and power, wasn’t afraid to do so. So it’s not completely unrealistic to assume that these sorts of challenges might arise.

On the other hand, the real question here revolves around art’s moral responsibility, if it even has that responsibility, and how synonymous Trump supporters are with the president himself. I promise we’ll get there. But first, we have to take a couple of detours, starting with the elephant in the room.

Conflict 2: Trump vs. culture

In its original incarnation, Roseanne sometimes drew more than 30 million viewers per episode. ABC via Getty Images

If there’s one thing Donald Trump loves, it’s big TV ratings, even if he doesn’t always understand how they work. And after the new Roseanne debuted with more than 18 million viewers — barely off its original numbers from 1988, a monumental feat in this age of audience depletion — Trump called Barr to congratulate her on her success.

It’s not hard to see why he would do so. Barr is a high-profile Trump supporter, and, as such, the president surely regards the new series as “pro-Trump,” in the way he tends to turn all conflicts into ones that hinge solely on his existence. Even if Trump watched the new Roseanne, he probably wouldn’t notice any of its attempted nuance in regards to the titular character’s support for him. He would just see the support.

Needless to say, this situation has hypercharged the entire debate, which tends to happen whenever Trump inserts himself into these sorts of cultural discussions. Now to watch Roseanne is going to be seen by many who don’t support the president as a tacit support not just of Trump but of everything he stands for, at least for a little while. That makes it awfully difficult for the show to become anything other than a Donald Trump-shaped lightning rod, which is probably what he intended by grafting himself onto the biggest entertainment story of the week.

The ratings for the new Roseanne probably have little to do with Trump. Are there people who tuned in because Barr supports the president? Sure. But there are also plenty of people who tuned in because the original is a fondly remembered, massive hit, or because there aren’t a lot of depictions of white working-class people on TV right now, or because they just miss seeing this cast together, or because they’re John Goodman or Laurie Metcalf superfans.

If other recent revivals, like The X-Files and Will & Grace, are any indication, then the big ratings for the first airing are inevitably going to descend rapidly in the weeks to come. Roseanne is starting from a much higher position, but it, too, will probably slide downward as the cultural conversation moves on to other things. And by grafting himself onto the story like this, Trump might even hasten that slide. But, honestly, enough about Trump. He has less to do with this than you might think. Let’s get back to the show.

Conflict 3: Darlene vs. Roseanne

Darlene is trying to survive living in the same house as her parents all over again. ABC

Lots and lots of critics (including me) have pointed this out, but the point-of-view character of the new Roseanne isn’t really Roseanne. Sure, she’s important, and Barr is first-billed in the cast. But she’s also depicted as somebody who’s increasingly distant and hard to understand — deeply dedicated to her family but hostile to the world at large.

This is not all that different from the Roseanne in the original Roseanne, but the lens through which we view the character has shifted to somebody else entirely: her younger daughter, Darlene, played by Sara Gilbert, who was instrumental in getting this revival to the air and serves as an executive producer for the show.

Gilbert is a very different media personality from Barr. She played the most fully developed of Roseanne’s kids on the original series, a dreamer with big ambitions who seemed like she might escape the Conner household and do great things. From there, Gilbert starred in a number of other projects, but she’s probably now best known as one of the co-hosts of the CBS talk show The Talk, where she is often portrayed as the voice of reasonable progressive America. She’s married to musician Linda Perry, and the two have a child.

If the new series’ depiction of a family divided by politics but trying to figure out those differences occasionally feels like it arrived straight from the brain of a talk show host, well, here’s how Gilbert put it at a press conference for the show in January: “I think this is a time, as we all know, where our country is very divided. And we did have a wonderful opportunity to talk about this in the context of a family, and I think part of what’s going on is that people feel like they can’t disagree and still love each other or still talk to each other.”

All of this is to say that Gilbert is a sort of bastion of white cosmopolitan coastal America, but the white cosmopolitan coastal America that really wants to understand why so many white Americans in rural areas seem to have abandoned reality as white progressives understand it. (Hey, I’m one of them!) This is why, occasionally, the new Roseanne feels like it emerged fully formed from the head of a New York Times Trump supporter profile.

But it’s also why the show isn’t the sort of hectoring screed a lot of its harshest critics assumed it would be, sight unseen. By shifting the point of view to Darlene, by forcing a character who displayed such promise to move back in with her parents, the series takes a long look at the ways the American system fails those who might contribute more to it than their tax dollars. Making Darlene the center of the series means that Roseanne’s Trump support can be portrayed in a more ambivalent light than it might be if Roseanne were at its center, but it also doesn’t create a scenario where wise liberals are constantly dunking on conservatives.

Does it 100 percent work? Not just yet, but it’s a really interesting setup for a sitcom, and as a TV critic, that’s what most excites me about the new series. I’ll quote Slate’s Willa Paskin to explain why:

It’s the show’s vision of Darlene that is the real American indictment, a woman who thought she could get out and do better, who went to college, but who can’t escape generational poverty despite her best efforts. She’s a feminist, too, but one who can’t overcome her seemingly immutable status as a poor person, whomever she voted for.

It’s a radical vision for a heartwarming sitcom, one I hope the series can fully realize. Will it? Well…

Conflict 4: Roseanne (1988) vs. Roseanne (2018)

One thing is always the same: John Goodman is an endless fountain of joy. ABC

A lot of what people think about Roseanne in 2018 is being read into it by what we know about Roseanne in 1988. Viewers have only seen two episodes of the new series (shown over a full hour for the show’s debut). Critics have seen just one more episode, one that complicates the series in interesting ways. (I’ll get to it, promise, and I haven’t forgotten all the other cliffhangers strewn throughout this article. We’re going somewhere, everybody!) So it’s necessary, in some ways, to balance old against new.

And that both cuts against the show and in its favor, in differing ways. In its corner is the fact that the original Roseanne ultimately came down on the side of interrogating both its characters and the power structures that kept them in their often miserable lives. In the episode critics have seen and viewers haven’t, for instance, the show contrasts a job Darlene could take that would nevertheless force her to wear a demeaning, sexualized uniform with Roseanne’s dependence on pain pills to be able to do all the housework her caring but oblivious husband won’t help out with. Both strictures are designed to remind these women of their dependence on the good graces of the American patriarchy, in very different ways.

It’s not hard to see how the series could develop this into a full-blown critique of not just Trump but of America itself, of all of the decisions made in the past 40 years that have widened income gaps and calcified power imbalances until they seem like just the way things are. And if this were the old Roseanne, it would absolutely do that.

But working against the show is that we also know that Barr would routinely overhaul the writing staff of her original series to better suit her vision. If she has that level of power over the new series, then the show’s writers (who are headed up by Whitney Cummings and Bruce Helford, and joined by luminaries like Norm Macdonald and Wanda Sykes) could quickly be fired in the name of making a program more friendly to Trump.

For a variety of reasons, I don’t think this is terribly likely. Gilbert is there, for instance, to prevent Barr from wholesale sacking the writers in order to bring in Anthony Scaramucci or something. But Barr’s actions on the previous series do give pause to anyone hoping the show will really dig into the disconnect between Roseanne Conner’s Trump support and the policies the president backs that would make life harder for her biracial granddaughter, her military-deployed daughter-in-law, and her seemingly genderqueer grandson.

In the three episodes I’ve seen, the show pushes further against Barr’s views than I thought it would, but it also never pushes as far as it might. It is interested in the disconnect between Roseanne’s love for her family and the ways that family is being torn apart by living in America in 2018 with a certain someone as president. It’s even interested in how Roseanne herself is being hurt by Trump’s policies, even if it would never come out and say this. But maybe, in 2018, that isn’t enough. And now we’re finally here.

Conflict 5: The morality of the self vs. the morality of the commons

Jackie does a little light reading on general principles of ethics and morality. ABC

A number of anti-Roseanne commentators have suggested that the series fails a critical test because it suggests that Roseanne Conner’s love for her family trumps her support for a racist xenophobe who’s actively trying to make America white again. How, for instance, can Roseanne be so supportive of her grandson’s choice to wear girls clothes to school when the president she so loves is actively trying to ban transgender troops? How can Roseanne possibly say that the president isn’t racist, especially in light of how strenuously the character pushed back against racism on the original show? The Daily Beast’s Ira Madison III, one of our finest cultural commentators, called the character a “fantasy” of a Trump supporter.

But is it? I, obviously, can only speak from my own personal experience, but I’ve known many, many people who are supportive of their own LGBTQ friends and relatives while happily and even fervently supporting politicians who support anti-LGBTQ policies. I’ve known plenty of people who don’t believe themselves to be racist because they bear no particular ill will toward the black people they know or even “have black friends,” while believing at the same time an assortment of racist falsehoods about intelligence gaps between races or the like, simply based on what they know of the rest of the world from TV.

How we vote is so dependent on what we know of the world, and in the kinds of small, insular, largely white communities like the one depicted on Roseanne (which is somewhere in the Chicago metroplex but well on its outskirts), what the characters know of the world is limited to their own community. Roseanne depicts politics as a kind of phantom that descends from outside for white people to politely argue over, something that has little actual impact on the lives of these characters.

That disconnect exists all throughout these sorts of communities in America too. It’s easy to forget that what’s happening in Washington has genuine impact on your life and the lives of those you love when the community you live in has barely changed in decades and has usually changed for the worst. If you’re lucky, your kids might leave for a larger city, but they’re not sticking around.

To live this sort of life (in my experience) is to be primarily interested in the morality of the self, the morality of what you actually do — how can I keep from seeming racist — as opposed to the morality of the commons, the morality of how the things you support and believe make life worse for others, sometimes thousands of miles away. If you, yourself, are not physically discriminating against people of color, then you, yourself, are not racist, this line of thinking goes. Finding a way to talk about the fact that that’s not true requires completely shifting the frame of conversation. It requires shifting the very definition of the word racism used in these cases. And that’s, uh, not easy.

Here’s how Cummings put it at the press conference I referred to earlier:

I went home for the holidays. I have some family members who were not on the same side on a lot of this sort of stuff. … And, of course, I’m asking all the same questions. “How could you do this? He said this and said this and said this.” And they said, “Whitney, we’re poor. We don’t have a choice. We have to vote for people we disagree with because they said ‘jobs.’ That’s how bad it is. And then we have to sleep at night knowing that.”

Through the three episodes I’ve seen, Roseanne hasn’t yet explored the gap between a desperate vote for Trump and everything that happened after. It hasn’t yet explored if Roseanne understands that gap even exists, if either the character or the actress can bring herself to think of Washington as something other than a far-off soap opera that should at least be entertaining if it’s not actively helping her. And I can’t say if it will. Honestly, for as much faith as I have in the multi-camera sitcom, it might be beyond the ability of any one show to handle.

But the third episode I’ve seen — in which (spoilers!) Roseanne is revealed to be addicted to pain medication — tries to grapple with these lived realities as well as anything I’ve seen since Trump was elected, and all without once using the word “Trump.” (This episode is the seventh produced and will not necessarily be the third to air. That ABC didn’t send out more contiguous episodes could be seen as troubling!)

And it’s not as if TV isn’t currently full of other shows that examine these sorts of social issues through the prisms of characters who have no love lost for the president, most notably ABC’s Black-ish and Netflix’s sterling One Day at a Time, which examines life as a Cuban-American family in Trump’s America with heart and humor. No single show can cover these issues all by itself, but maybe all of them can when combined.

A lot of the pushback against Roseanne that I’ve seen ultimately boils down to this one simple idea: A Trump supporter should never be given this large a bullhorn. As a non-Trump supporter myself, it’s an idea I’m at least sympathetic to. But I also understand how thinking of that ilk led directly to the popularity of Trump, who seemed to his fans like he was puncturing these media bubbles with reckless, thrilling impunity. But there will never be a magic salve that suddenly causes scales to fall from Trump supporters’ eyes, that causes them to say, “Oh, I was wrong all along!” and even if there were, hoping it might come in the form of a TV show is a little silly.

TV, more than any other medium, can drag us, kicking and screaming, toward a more empathetic understanding of each other. The new Roseanne might have set its sights so high it will never reach them, but it shouldn’t be dinged merely for trying to depict the complicated mess of family relationships in this era.

The politics of Roseanne — and maybe Roseanne — are confused and incoherent, but so are a lot of our politics. Untangling them is the work of this show, and the other shows I listed above, and all of us. There is no magic “cure” for Trump voters, as surely as the magic cure for liberalism my parents almost certainly wish they could buy doesn’t exist. But Roseanne, flawed and difficult as it is, at least gives us all a space to hash out a few of these things. And that’s valuable.


Roseanne Gets the Chair Season 10 Episode 3 Editor’s Rating 4 stars **** Photo: Adam Rose/ABC

Roseanne Conner can easily handle her spoiled granddaughter’s bogarting of the washing machine, treating her home like a hotel (and Roseanne like her personal housekeeper), and referring to her granny as a crazy hillbilly. But a bum knee, diabetes, and Dan’s suggestion that she use the Easy Climb 5000 stair lift force Roseanne to take on a much more formidable opponent: aging. And so far, it’s got her on the ropes.

Roseanne’s knee is in such bad shape that even routine driving, like all the stop signs her Uber customers expect her to obey, causes her immense pain. As Dan reported after an expensive trip to the pharmacy in the season premiere, the family can barely afford pain medication, so some pills and an ice pack are all that’s standing between Roseanne and immobility.

It’s a harsh, relatable scenario for many people, as is the more comically relatable reaction Dan gets when he shows off the Easy Climb he procured “for the very reasonable price of, our neighbor died and they’re tearing down his house.” Roseanne initially refuses to take a seat and glide comfortably to the second floor of 714 Delaware Street. She isn’t old, she protests. Even with her ice pack upstairs and the offer of a pain-free ride to retrieve it, Roseanne’s vanity wins out, prompting Dan to race the remotely controlled chair versus his hobbled spouse to the top of the stairs, narrating the contest like it’s a day at the track.

Here’s a good time to point out what many of those think pieces have overlooked about the Roseanne revival’s ratings success: John Goodman. Both Goodman and Dan were beloved during the series’ original run, and both he and the Conner paterfamilias have grown only more charming in the last 20 years, in large part because they seem to have genuine appreciation and affection for Roseanne — real-life and TV versions — and the irreverent humor that continues to see the Conner family through their health, economic, and family dramas.

Like, for instance, Roseanne and Dan’s issues with the way Darlene is raising Harris. Their methods of parenting are outdated, Darlene protests, as she rewards Harris’s selfishness and rudeness toward her family with lenience and spending money. But laundry day brings their differences to a head. Because Harris has tied up the washer and dryer for several days preparing her thrift-shop finds to be sold in her Etsy shop, Roseanne is out of clean underwear. Something concocted from a coffee filter and a scrunchie is filling in for Hanes (ahem, her way), and when Harris drops her bombshell that she thinks she’s better than her “hillbilly” Lanford folk, Roseanne soaks her head in the kitchen sink.

This, remember, is the mom who once took her daughters’ bedroom door off its hinges when teenage Becky refused to talk to her, so, yeah, it’s fair to say Roseanne has not mellowed as a grandma.

But Darlene is forced to admit she isn’t in the right, either. Harris has been getting away with bratty behavior because of Darlene’s guilt about moving her kids to Lanford after losing her job. Harris tells her mom how unhappy she is, how she doesn’t fit in in Lanford, and those are feelings that make her all the more like a mini-Darlene. That doesn’t get her off the hook for stocking her Etsy biz with shoplifted merch, which Darlene and Roseanne discover when Harris drops some of her just-laundered goods: After Darlene tells her daughter she’s gonna have to tough it out in Lanford for the next three years, she also makes her shut down the Etsy shop and share all her social-media passwords.

Turns out there are some good things about being older, like mom and dad’s experience dealing with rebellious teenagers. (“You’re smart for a kid, but you’re still dumb for a person,” Roseanne tells Harris.) Instead of their well-earned “told you so,” Roseanne and Dan praise Darlene for choosing to be a parent instead of a friend to her daughter in the end. The trio’s bit about how there should be books to help you learn how to be a parent could come off as hokey, if not for the special chemistry between Roseanne, Goodman, and Sara Gilbert that’s made this revival shine.

Couch Surfing

• Roseanne, in response to Darlene’s assertion that it’s now cool to wear used clothing and look poor: “Yeah, it’s all fun and games until you’re reusing your diabetes needles.” Except she pronounces it “diabeetus,” Wilfred Brimley–style.

• Harris thinks her life sucks. “All our lives suck,” says Roseanne. “That’s why we put marshmallows on yams!”

• Why does Becky need to wash blood out of her waitress uniform? “Bottomless margaritas and a dart tournament.”

• Dan and Roseanne fall asleep on the couch after dinner, snoozing from “Wheel to Kimmel.”

• Dan: “We missed all the shows about black and Asian families.” Roseanne: “They’re just like us. There, now you’re all caught up.”

• Harris blames the shoplifted clothes on her schoolmates, who gave them to her without taking off the security tags first. “God, I’m sorry your henchmen are stupid, Riddler,” an unsympathetic Darlene responds.

Remind me to never look into a hillbilly day spa.

On Roseanne Season 10 Episode 3, Roseanne had a lot of issues with the way Darlene was raising Harris, and she definitely made her opinion known in a big way.

I was actually rather shocked at the way Darlene would let Harris talk, not only to her but to Roseanne as well. You would have thought someone like Darlene wouldn’t put up with the terrible attitude her daughter was serving to the family; though Harris was acting like a typical teenager.

Her complete disrespect of Roseanne actually made a lot of sense when you look at Harris’ age. Thankfully Roseanne decided to enact her own kind of parenting by submerging Harris’ head in the sink. Was anyone else cracking up over the whole bit?

You have to give Roseanne credit – even though her parenting style has A LOT to be desired, she at least doesn’t mince words when it comes to putting a child in their place.

I know there will be some who think she could have gotten more out of Harris by having a simple conversation with her, but Harris was being downright nasty and disrespectful, and it was high time to show her who the boss was.

Related: Roseanne: Renewed for Season 11 at ABC!

Who else figured out rather quickly Harris was probably selling stolen clothes online? It was a plot point which could easily be seen a mile away. While it’s an awesome idea to sell clothes from a thrift store, you had to wonder where she was even getting all the money to buy the number of clothes she was selling.

At least Darlene finally realized she was being too soft on Harris, and I surprisingly found myself understanding Darlene a little bit more.

She’s a single parent, and she knows she took her kids away from everything in Chicago. Darlene had to know she would have to deal with this eventually especially when it comes to having a teenager in the house.

I am still waiting to hear exactly what happened between Darlene and David. It’s a little difficult not to feel some sort of anger when it comes to David, and why he isn’t in his kids’ lives. All of this stress shouldn’t be put on Darlene’s shoulders.

Thankfully, we won’t have to wait too long for answers regarding David, as he’s making his return shortly.

Related: Roseanne Promo: Watch Johnny Galecki’s Return!

While the main plot revolved around Darlene’s parenting, another point touched on Roseanne’s knee issues. It was hilarious when Dan presented the chair to Roseanne. I’d probably have the exact same reaction to the chair as she did.

I was thrilled to see much more Dan in this episode. He seemed to not only offer his own observation regarding Harris, but he also was able to add in some wonderful comic relief. You have to admit Dan’s heart was in the right place when he acquired the chair for Roseanne.

Of course, Roseanne’s bad knee didn’t stop Harris from trying to get her grandmother to do things for her when Harris was completely capable of doing them herself. Asking Roseanne to make her coffee – are you freaking serious?! Girl, you got legs and arms for a reason.

The only thing I was confused about was why Becky and even Jackie were included. Now before you go off on me, I love both characters – Jackie is my personal favorite, but it just didn’t make sense. It was like they were just thrown in the episode to add a couple more people.

Related: Get Great Selection of New & Classic Movies with the Lifetime Movie Club via Prime Video Channels!

Speaking of Jackie, I know she’s always been more of the quirky person, but I don’t understand her sudden complete lack of intelligence. While, yes, she did make an astute observation regarding Darlene’s parenting style, she still reverted back to being a little on the dumb side.

I am not looking forward to having Jackie constantly making less-than-intelligent remarks when it comes to various things the family gets involved in.

Jackie was a police officer for goodness sakes – she does have some intelligent bones in her body. They could easily give Jackie equal parts quirkiness and intelligence. I guess time will only tell, but I’ve got my fingers crossed when it comes to one of my favorite characters.

I will say this has probably been my favorite episode of the three. It flowed extremely well, and it reminded me of many Roseanne classics. They retained the bossiness of Roseanne, the heart of Dan, and they showed how Darlene has grown as an adult.

Related: Roseanne Season Premiere Review: Twenty Year to Life

There were still moments of absolute hilariousness – the whole hillbilly thing was fantastic. It also showed the heart of the show which has always been about the Conner family. I’m really looking forward to seeing how the rest of the season progresses.

Now it’s your turn to tell me what you think.

Did you think Darlene was being too soft when it came to Harris? What did you think of Roseanne’s parenting? Do you want more answers about Darlene and David marriage?

Let me know in the comments below.

If you want to catch up with the Conner phenomena, watch Roseanne online now via TV Fanatic to catch what you’ve missed.

Roseanne Gets The Chair Review

Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0

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User Rating:

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Rating: 4.3 / 5.0 (12 Votes) Edit Delete

Samantha McAllister was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She retired in November 2018.

Roseanne, ABC’s 1980s/’90s sitcom about a working-class Midwestern family, made a rousing return 21 years after the original series signed off. With more than 18 million viewers tuned in for the hour-long premiere of the nine-episode revival series, Roseanne’s blockbuster debut makes a new season a near shoo-in.

Now that they have become reacquainted with Roseanne (Roseanne Barr), Dan (John Goodman), and the rest of the Conner clan, Roseanne fans are looking ahead to the next episode, titled “Roseanne Gets the Chair.”

According to a synopsis posted by the Futon Critic, the upcoming Roseanne episode is described as follows: “Roseanne’s clash with Darlene over how she’s raising her kids – especially Harris – reaches a breaking point; while Dan tries to help Roseanne with her bad knee by getting her an elevator chair, which she refuses to use because she doesn’t want to admit getting old.”

Series star Roseanne Barr also posted to Twitter to give fans a hint about the upcoming episode, which will give viewers more insight into Darlene Conner’s (Sara Gilbert) relationship with her teen daughter, Harris (played by Sara Gilbert lookalike, Emma Kenney).

“Next week’s show will demonstrate how #Roseanne teaches her granddaughter to stop being a horrible teenaged girl,” Barr tweeted.

next week’s show will demonstrate how #Roseanne teaches her granddaughter to stop being a horrible teenaged girl.

— Roseanne Barr (@therealroseanne) March 29, 2018

ABC has released sneak peek promotional photos from “Roseanne Gets the Chair” which show the Conner matriarch riding on her elevator chair—and not looking very happy about it.

Featured image credit: Adam RoseABC

There are also photos of Roseanne talking to her difficult granddaughter, as well as shots of Darlene holed up in her old bedroom as she seems to be seeking advice from her concerned parents—or maybe just listening to some unsolicited commentary. In addition to her daughter Harris, Darlene is a single mom to a young son, Mark (Ames McNamara), who made waves in the

There are also photos of Roseanne talking to her difficult granddaughter, as well as shots of Darlene holed up in her old bedroom as she seems to be seeking advice from her concerned parents—or maybe just listening to some unsolicited commentary. In addition to her daughter Harris, Darlene is a single mom to a young son, Mark (Ames McNamara), who made waves in the Roseanne premiere for his unconventional clothing choices.

Featured image credit: Adam RoseABC

Roseanne fans were sad to learn that Darlene Conner is no longer with her husband David Healy (Johnny Galecki), and as of now he does not seem to be a big part of his ex-wife and kids’ lives. Johnny Galecki will make an appearance for one episode later this season on the Roseanne revival, so viewers will eventually get to see what David has been up to.

Featured image credit: Adam RoseABC

In addition to “Roseanne Gets the Chair,” future Roseanne episodes are titled “Eggs Over, Not Easy,” and “Netflix & Pill.”

As for the future of Roseanne itself, there is already buzz that the show will be picked up for another season, which would be the series’11th. In an interview with thet New York Times, Roseanne Barr hinted that the whole cast is on board for another season should they get one.

“We all want to keep doing it,” Barr told the Times. “So we just hope people like it and they watch it, and it gets renewed, you know, we all want that.”

You can see Darlene Conner dealing with a parenting issue in a scene from the premiere episode of the Roseanne reboot below.

The Roseanne episode “Roseanne gets the Chair” airs Tuesday, April 3 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.