TV Review: "Roseanne" (2018 Pilot episode)
Nostalgia is a funny thing; it can blind you to a show or movie's faults and misfires. Nostalgia can also make you overly critical (I'm talking to my fellow Star Wars geeks who take every variance as blasphemy in the eyes of Our Lord, Luke Skywalker). Nostalgia is, in short, a tricky bitch with a clever disguise and a killer rack.
That slippery slope is precisely why I try to go into every reboot/remake/rehash/reimagining with absolutely zero preconceived notions. It's best to expect nothing and go at it cold, but that is often a difficult thing to do, even with the stuff that you were casually into.
I was not just casually into Roseanne growing up. I was, to put it mildly, batshit crazy about that show. You could say it was "my jam".
I'm pretty sure that most people my age and older felt the same way. Roseanne was an important piece of the American landscape in the late 80's and early-to-mid 90's. It had all of the trappings of it's mild-mannered counterparts- laugh track, taped before a studio audience, solvable 30-minute problem. The differences were how it handled that problem (with brutal and dangerous honesty) and the setting in which it did so (down in the nitty-gritty of the lower middle class "white trash").
And it had so much fucking heart.
I'm so damn tickled to see that the shiny, new 2018 incarnation of one of TV's greatest shows has the same heart. It feels as if time has never passed in the Connor household, even though you can clearly see that a couple of decades have gone by. Kind of like our lives. Are you looking for the definition of the word poignant, folks? That's it right there. You don't need a dictionary. It's a living, breathing example.
Roseanne doesn't seem to have aged a day, & I say that in the nicest way possible. She still has all the edge, attitude, & sensibility of the Mom who smells like smoke because she's walked through fire. Dan is still the All-American Dad that is the backbone of this country. Darlene fires on all cylinders in all of her overly cynical, razor-sharp, damaged glory. Aunt Jackie overplays it as only she can....bugshit crazy and strangely lovable.
I love the fact that every cast member returned. I love the fact that they make jokes at the expense of the original show's issues/failings (Dan's death, anyone?). They don't hide from their history. They embrace it.
It's at this point that I have to say (in all caps for emphasis) that JOHN GOODMAN IS A NATIONAL TREASURE! He was always the best part of the show for me, as a kid, and he is turning a performance that has aged like a fine bottle of Boone's Farm Strawberry Wine. He is Hollywood's most criminally underrated actor. Every scene he is in belongs to him lock, stock, & barrel. Go ahead and give him the Emmy.
Now for the full confession: the first few minutes made me a little nervous. When Aunt Jackie appears for the first time and begins arguing with Roseanne about "electing that man" while wearing a pink short sporting the phrase "NASTY WOMAN" I rolled my eyes. I didn't want something else ruined by a political agenda. Hell, I'd prefer that my entertainment not even talk about politics! The shit turns me right the fuck off. When Darlene's son showed up dressed like a girl I said to myself "we're clearly going for a message here". And they are.
However, I told myself to hang with it. Let's see what the message is. I sat with baited breath and relaxed with each one. The laughs began to flow freely.
The message is acceptance. The message is acknowledging our differences and being okay with them because we're family. The message is, in short, love. It's a crazy and dysfunctional kind of love, but we are Americans. Crazy and dysfunctional is our stock in trade. We wear that shit like a badge of honor. If you're not proud to be a damn American (whether you're crying over Hillary's loss or gloating about Trump's reign) then you are missing the point. This show is not for you.
Despite what I've already seen from many on social media who are offended by the show, it is not pro-Trump (sorry, Liberals). It's not trying to push scary social issues like homosexuality, transgender kids, or bi-racial relationships on you (sorry, Religious Right). I get why some of you may feel that way....like I said, I was nervous the first few minutes, too. What it is trying to push on you is family, love, & the importance of working through our differences and (God forbid) embracing them.
It seems to me like maybe that is exactly what we need right now. How fitting is it that you can get that from Roseanne? I call it perfectly American. You could almost say the show is MAKING AMERICA GREAT AGAIN.
See what I did there?