‘Roseanne’: What We Learned From the First Episode of the Reboot

After a nine-season run through the 1990s, Roseanne came to an end in 1997. But much like so many other popular sitcoms from that decade, it has come back around over 20 years later. The reboot of Roseanne features the majority of the original cast, back in the same old house with the same old couch.

But how will they solve some of the remaining issues from the series finale? How would they incorporate both actresses that played Becky? We watched the pilot episode and compiled a list of things we learned.

Jackie and Roseanne haven’t spoken since the election

Jackie and Roseanne

Jackie and Roseanne disagree over their politics. | ABC

There was the promise of Roseanne getting political, and it didn’t take long. Although they never say “Trump” or “Hillary,” it’s clear that Jackie’s support of Hillary Clinton and Roseanne voting for Donald Trump has caused a rift in the family. So far, it’s well done. No doubt, the 2016 Presidential Election split a lot of families. It makes sense that the blue collar family from Lanford, Illinois would be no different.

Jackie shows up at the house to give Darlene a ride to a job interview, wearing her pink hat and “Nasty Woman” shirt. She and Roseanne go back and forth with the insults, Jackie calling her deplorable and Roseanne firing back with “snowflake.” When Jackie comes to dinner, she jabs Roseanne yet again by bringing Russian salad dressing.

Next: Roseanne and Dan are old 

Roseanne and Dan have some health concerns

Dan and Roseanne

The two have some health issues. | ABC

The first scene following the opening credits shows Dan bringing home medicine from the pharmacy. Roseanne comments that it’s a little light, and Dan informs her that their health insurance no longer covers what it used to. They each have to take several pills, with Roseanne having to take anti-depressants and anti-inflammatories for a bad knee. Dan has to take blood pressure medication and several others.

Again, this is a good example of art being true to life. The characters are older, as Dan’s CPAP mask in the cold open makes painfully obvious. It’s yet another way how Roseanne accurately portrays what life would be like for this lower-middle-class family in suburban Illinois.

Next: How do they explain that one death?

They explain away Dan’s “death”

Dan and Roseanne

Dan’s presumed death is explained in this manner. | ABC

Many had wondered how the reboot of Roseanne would explain the fact that Dan had died in the original series. Although he stuck around until near the very end, Roseanne’s monologue in the finale explains that everything was all a part of a book she was writing. Dan had died of a heart attack, while she had switched Darlene and Becky’s love interests to be more realistic.

In a scene in the garage, Dan finds Roseanne’s book in an old box and comments that it could’ve been a hit – if only she hadn’t killed off the best character. It’s a bit of a weird fix, but it works.

Next: The new characters on the show

The grandkids are perfectly weird

Roseanne reboot

Grandkids are now in the family’s picture. | ABC

Darlene’s daughter, Harris, is in high school (which fudges the timeline a bit, but we won’t argue) and is the reincarnation of her mother. Darlene’s youngest son, Mark, dresses in traditionally feminine clothes and paints his nails. This is hard on Dan, who doesn’t really understand it and just wants his grandson to “act like a boy,” but Roseanne continually encourages her husband to roll with it.

D.J. also has a daughter, Mary, who seems to be around six or seven years old. Not much is known about her yet, other than that her mother is not yet present. But more on their family later.

Next: A surprise that’s very true to Jackie’s character

Jackie didn’t actually vote for Hillary

Jackie on Roseanne

Jackie admits this about her vote. | aBC

Despite her obvious support for Clinton, Jackie is true to her character in that she didn’t actually vote for Hillary. Late in the episode, she reveals that Roseanne is still so great at getting into her head and making her question everything.

With Roseanne bearing down on her, Jackie admits that she walked into the voting booth and voted for Jill Stein — a name that Roseanne doesn’t even recognize. It’s an excellent carryover of the influence that the older sister always had on her younger sister.

Next: The second-youngest Conner child

D.J. and his wife were in the army together

Roseanne family reboot

D.J’S wife is in the army. | ABC

At dinner, it’s revealed that D.J. recently got out of the army and had been stationed over in Syria. His wife is also in the army, and it’s presumably where they met. She is still overseas, while D.J. is back at home with their daughter.

It’s unclear whether Roseanne ever intends to introduce D.J.’s wife, or if the producers feel that the number of characters already involved is the saturation point. As it stands, Roseanne, Dan, and Jackie are joined in the main cast by three of their four kids and their kids’ three children.

Next: The absence of the youngest Conner child

Jerry is on a fishing boat

Roseanne on a chair

This is how they explain Jerry’s whereabouts. | ABC

If you’ll recall, toward the end of the original run of Roseanne, a new character was added in later seasons. That would be Jerry, Roseanne’s baby who was not recast for the reboot. During a prayer at dinner, Roseanne reveals that Jerry is on a fishing boat and can’t receive phone calls.

It’s an interesting way to write the character out while still acknowledging him as part of the family. They easily could’ve simply ignored the fourth child, much how they glossed over Dan’s death.

Next: Becky is making a major decision

Becky is having a baby

Both actresses who played Becky are in the reboot. | ABC

Late in the first episode, Becky comes in during dinner to announce to the entire family that she’s going to be a surrogate for a couple trying to have a baby. It’s later revealed that the wife is played by Sarah Chalke, who was “other Becky” during the original run of the show. The family is somewhat unsupportive of the idea at first, but once it’s revealed that they’d be using Becky’s eggs things really get worse.

Although Roseanne doesn’t like it, she agrees that it’s Becky’s decision. Dan is clearly unhappy and storms off to the garage. In the end, Roseanne convinces her husband that trying to tell Becky (who is now 43 and lying about her age to the couple) that she can’t do it won’t stop her.

Next: Roseanne and Jackie solve their problems … for now

Eventually, Jackie and Roseanne make up

Jackie and Roseanne

Jackie and Roseanne finally come to an agreement. | ABC

Toward the end, Jackie and Roseanne get it out of their system and make up. Jackie apologizes, and Roseanne forgives her … which is a bit odd, but true to their relationship.

But with the political nature of the pilot and Roseanne Barr’s real life support of President Trump, you can bet that Roseanne isn’t quite done with the political jokes. Politics have consumed us as a country, and showing how they’ve effected this blue collar family is a perfect representation of “white America” in 2018.

Next: Final thoughts on the reboot

Overall thoughts on Roseanne

Roseanne

Roseanne is off to a solid start. | aBC

The first episode was done well, and overall it’s a great way to reintroduce the family. Politics aside, Roseanne was always about accurately portraying white families in middle class America. So far, they’ve modernized that look while still bringing back all the snark that made the show great. Darlene still has a biting, sarcastic commentary on everyone in her family. Becky is still completely embarrassed by everything about her family. It works.

If you can get past the sometimes divisive political commentary, Roseanne seems to be right on track to adding another solid season to its already-great television legacy.

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