I must admit, reviewing the Roseanne show, Seasons 3 and 4, has been one of my favorite assignments thus far. Every episode is a delight, whether it’s on the light- hearted or the more dramatic side.
She’s loud, she’s brash, she’s strong, she’s Roseanne Barr (Arnold)! Starring in the self- titled sitcom from 1988- 1997, she leads an extremely talented cast. John Goodman, Michael Fishman, Sara Gilbert, Lecy Goranson, and Laurie Metcalf complete the “Connor” family. The Connors are a hard- working, blue collar family who deal with the mundane issues of a lower- income family. While the show is over 20 years old, many of its topics can translate to the contemporary economic hardships many Americans are facing. Foreclosure, surprise pregnancies, juggling multiple jobs, bank loans with exorbitant interest rates, and layoffs are just a few of the obstacles they not only encounter, but do so with either caustic wit or heartfelt poignancy. (It also dealt with issues that remained taboo at the time- homosexuality and abortion.)
Besides the significant social portrayals, the show delved deeply into personal issues, with sincere drama overlaid by a touch of comedic grace. Dealing with daughters entering teenagedom, dating less- than- desirable boys, and the necessity of the “talk,” are just some examples of intimate situations the show broached. Throw in a young boy discovering hormones and you have the makings of parental nightmares. The parents have plenty of their own issues- making their marriage work when the mundane world has grown too stressful, tedious in- laws, and addiction (food and cigarettes) to contend with. Add to the brew a neurotic aunt who can’t maintain a relationship or a career and you have the ingredients for a very realistic and lovingly dysfunctional portrayal of a working class family.
The dominant voice of the show belongs to Roseanne. While she is not the strongest actress, she delivers with force and sincerity. Her larger- than- life persona serves as the anchor of the family. The rest of the cast possess solid acting chops and provide a great support for her. Every character feels so real and relatable that an audience can easily empathize with the emotions and struggles while appreciating the wit.
Recurring characters also lend much to the show’s credentials: Shelley Winters, Ned Beatty, Johnny Galecki, Glenn Quinn, Brad Garrett, George Clooney, and Martin Mull are a few of the familiar faces that frequent the series.
The show was rich in socio- economic commentary, comic relief, pushing boundaries, and solid writing. Seasons 3 and 4, which were my specific assignment, also had the introductions of such key characters as Mark and David Healy as well as the notable “Halloween” episodes. The “Roseanne” show constantly delivered with its outlandish over- the- top costumes which were always amazing.
I highly recommend this show for a myriad of reasons- for performances, writing, commentary, comedy, and sentimental moments. Roseanne is a force to be reckoned with and made such a great contribution to television history.