Much discussion about the new season of Roseanne has revolved around the political beliefs of its title character — and those of Roseanne Barr, who played her for nine seasons and reprises the role for ABC’s new reboot.
A blue-collar grandmother still struggling to make ends meet in small-town Illinois, Roseanne Conner is a Trump supporter, and Barr asserts she wouldn’t have it any other way. Whether or not that’s a deal-breaker for you will depend on how much you loved the show in its ’90s heyday (or how much you loathe POTUS), but know this: Few half-hour sitcoms in recent memory have packed in as much topical humor, empathy, and heart as this one.
A powerful early episode focuses on Roseanne’s unemployed daughter Darlene (Sara Gilbert) and her 9-year-old son Mark, who prefers to wear skirts to school. Darlene wants to let him explore; Roseanne and her husband, Dan (John Goodman), fear for his safety. But the richest plotline tackles the rift between Roseanne and her sister Jackie (the always glorious Laurie Metcalf).
A pink-pussy-hat-wearing life coach, Jackie is a manic caricature of liberal wokeness, while Roseanne helped put “him” in office. During a heated row in the Conners’ perfectly replicated kitchen, it becomes crystal clear why they haven’t spoken in a year. “I shoulda tried to understand why you voted the crazy way that you did,” Jackie concludes. It’s a simple sentiment, but in an era defined by its insularity and raging ideologies, a brave one. Three decades after it premiered, does Roseanne have a place on television? Maybe now more than ever.