‘Roseanne’ Season Finale Ignored This 1 Major Problem

 Roseanne made a long-awaited return to television in 2018. Following a pilot episode that saw 18 million people tune in, Roseanne has stayed at the top as one of  ABC’s best sitcoms of the season. Thanks to the way they’ve touched on politics, gender identity, and other key topics that require nuance, the show has often been praised by fans and critics. But not everything has been on point with Roseanne‘s reboot.

With the season finale having aired, there is one major topic that they really messed up. Let’s take a look back at some key themes from this season, as well as where Roseanne went wrong (page 5) and more about the final episode of the season (page 6).

Roseanne’s knee issues


This season-long issue finally comes to a close… sort of. | ABC

From the very first episode of the reboot, Roseanne has been upfront about the knee issue of the title character. Frequently throughout the season, Roseanne and the characters around her make references or jokes about the problems with her knee, including the fact that she frequently needs to stop to rest and put ice on it. The younger version of Roseanne wasn’t exactly spry, but the older Roseanne is a very real representation of elderly Americans.

Toward the end of the season, this plotline takes center stage when Dan essentially demands that Roseanne schedule surgery on her knee so that she can stop medicating to solve the problem. And that’s where they start to touch on an important topic, but they really end up missing in a big way.

Next: Health insurance doesn’t help much

They can’t afford their medicine


They are just trying to make ends meet. | ABC

The very first scene in the pilot following the opening credits shows Dan returning home from the pharmacy with very little in the way of medicine. It seems, he tells his wife, that their health insurance plan doesn’t cover what it used to. They’re getting half the drugs for twice the price. It’s a major commentary on the state of American health insurance, and the struggle that so many Americans are having with it.

But more than we knew at the time, this would become a recurring theme throughout the season. Not only are the Conners unable to afford the medicine that they need, they’re unable to afford much of anything. Roseanne works part-time as an Uber driver, while Dan struggles with his construction business. Knee surgery is what Roseanne needs, but she knows the family can’t afford it.

Next: How she copes with the problem

Revealing Roseanne’s addiction

David and Mark sitting on the couch in 'Roseanne'

The addiction plotline may be a nod to deceased cast member Glenn Quinn (right), who played Mark. | ABC

In the penultimate episode of the season, the show reveals that Roseanne is addicted to painkillers. It’s not the first time that Roseanne has focused on a heavy topic, and not even the first time since the show returned to the airwaves earlier in 2018. Opiate addiction is a topic that is close to the heart of many, having become a serious public health crisis in the United States. But it also hits close to home with the cast and crew of Roseanne because former cast member Glenn Quinn died in 2004 of a heroin overdose.

When Dan discovers that Roseanne has stolen or otherwise illegally acquired several bottles of pain pills, he tells her that the solution is for her to stop medicating and simply get the surgery. This is a point of contention, given that the Conners know they can’t afford the procedure. Although she agrees, it seems this plot point will come to a head in the season finale.

Next: Why it’s so important that they tackle the subject responsibly. 

Opiate addiction is complicated and painful


Her addiction would have impacted her family. | ABC

It’s important for the show to tackle the issue in a responsible manner, as in reality, Roseanne wouldn’t be dealing with her addiction easily. Neither would the rest of her family. Here is what Medline Plus, a government website, says about the abuse of and addiction to opiates.

Addiction is a chronic brain disease that causes a person to compulsively seek out drugs, even though they cause harm. The risks of dependence and addiction are higher if you abuse the medicines. Abuse can include taking too much medicine, taking someone else’s medicine, taking it in a different way than you are supposed to, or taking the medicine to get high.

The main treatment for prescription opioid addiction is medication-assisted treatment (MAT). It includes medicines, counseling, and support from family and friends. MAT can help you stop using the drug, get through withdrawal, and cope with cravings. There is also a medicine called naloxone which can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose and prevent death, if it is given in time.

Roseanne would be dealing with major withdrawal symptoms, not just going back to taking her medication at a normal rate and winding down the days until she can get in for surgery. Without MAT, it’s easy to see how she could battle her dependence on pain medication. Unfortunately, the show failed to accurately depict the struggles of addiction.

Next: How the show failed miserably

The finale glossed over the problem


The writers slept on a major opportunity to address a very real issue the right way. | ABC

Instead of taking its time to unravel the complex issue in the season finale, things suddenly seem to be just fine for Roseanne’s addiction. She’s fretting over-paying for the knee procedure, knowing that the family can’t afford it. Compounding the problem, Dan is attempting to make ends meet by considering using undocumented workers to secure a new drywall job — leaving his long-time friend and work associate, Chuck, out in the cold. Later, a major flood fills the Conners basement with water and leaves them hopeless.

But missing from the whole thing is the fact that Roseanne is addicted to pain medication. There’s really no mention of it anywhere in the episode. The episode assumes that she’s still using the medication, only now within the boundaries with which the doctor prescribed her.

Considering that we’re to believe only a matter of days, weeks at most, have passed on the timeline between episodes, sweeping Roseanne’s addiction under the sitcom rug is really disappointing.

Next: What the season finale focuses on instead

A focus on the Conners’ financial problems


There have been plenty of other issues to deal with this season. | ABC

The finale takes a heavier focus on the Conners’ financial problems than Roseanne’s addiction. The fact that she needs the surgery (painted as a cure-all for her issues) and they can’t afford it is the real problem, it seems. Dan’s decision to cut Chuck out on the contracting business in favor of cheaper, undocumented immigrants carries over a storyline from a previous episode, and the fallout from that decision is both entertaining and sends an important message about blue-collar struggles.

The flooding of the basement escalates everything, with no money coming in, a surgery they were already suffering to pay for, and now a new problem that is literally threatening the foundation of their home. For a moment, however so brief, it felt like this may be an issue that carries over into the already-greenlit next season of Roseanne. But not so fast.

Next: A last second ‘Hail Mary’

Everything wrapped in a neat little package


Everything gets resolved — at least, until next season. | ABC

In typical sitcom fashion, Roseanne was able to wrap everything up in a neat package by the end of the finale’s 21 minutes. President Trump declares a state of emergency (despite misspelling “Illinois” in his tweet), meaning that the flooded home of the Conners will be receiving money from FEMA to pay for the damage. Since Dan could do the work for half the price of hiring a contractor, they will still have more than enough money to pay for Roseanne’s knee surgery.

The hope here is that this doesn’t completely wipe the slate clean heading into the next season. Completely forgetting that Roseanne was, at least for one episode, addicted to pain medication would be tough for viewers to swallow.

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