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Roseanne - Twenty Years to Life & Dress to Impress - Review + Poll: Nasty Woman

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The following article reviews both Episode 1 and 2 of Roseanne!

Episode 1 (Twenty Years to Life):

ABC's Roseanne is the rebooted American sitcom, created by Matt Williams and produced by Roseanne Barr herself. It follows the Conner’s; a dysfunctional but typical American family, as they tackle all the challenges that life throws their way – including each other. In the newest reboot, we are reintroduced to a new ‘Conner’s family – the kids are grown up, the parents have retired, and everyone’s got a lot on their plates.

Before I say anything else about this show, I have to emphasise that I am but a baby. I was still in the womb when this show first originally aired, and I had never heard anything about this show, so of course, I did my research. Because the internet is such a wonderful place, I managed to track down and watch a few episodes from season one, to see what the good ol’ days were like. And to be honest? I didn’t like it. So imagine my joy when I watched the newest episode, and find myself dying with laughter every single second. That’s not even an exaggeration.

In the first episode of the reboot, we are thrown back into the family life, like no time has passed. Except, of course, it has. Dan isn’t dead – hallelujah! – and the tiny ones have grown into bigger ones, who have had tinier ones of their own. Darlene has two kids – Harris, your typical angsty teen and Mark, a truly adorable kid – and is currently living at home to take care of the grandparents; DJ has a kid of his own and a wife overseas in the Army, and Becky is working as a waitress at a nearby restaurant. Speaking of Becky, the issue regarding the two Becky actresses is resolved pretty quickly towards the end of the episode – Sarah Chalke, the second Becky, is now playing Andrea, a woman looking for a surrogate (who ends up being Becky, played by Lecy Goranson, the original Becky… are you confused yet?).

We find out early on that Rosie and Jackie aren’t speaking to each other, due to a difference in political preference. I thought this was really cool. There’s nothing more real and more reflective of today’s society and lifestyle than having family members argue and yell over who they voted for president. We find out that Rosie is a Trump supporter, whereas Jackie (dressed in her ‘Nasty Woman’ sweater and vagina hat) is a Hillary supporter. The fact that I was actually getting agitated over their arguments and them defending their political choices means that this show is doing something good. As well as this, arguments like this really fleshes out their characters. I mean, there was more than one occasion where I actually had to pause the episode and remind myself that this is just a show, and these are just fictional characters; they feel and act so real and, as a writer myself, that excites me.

The little digs at the previous seasons are hilarious, and while some of the jokes fly over my head (as being a newer fan, I did research further into the references because yes, I am a TV nerd), the episode’s overall humour and writing doesn’t completely rely on that, which I’m grateful for. In whatever situation, these characters are hilarious. They bounce off of each other so effortlessly, I’ve never seen anything like it before. The retorts between Dan and Rosie just keep coming without hesitation, and I end up dying with giggles.

It isn’t all fun and games, though. The up times come with the down too. Rosie and Jackie fight constantly throughout the episode, Darlene and Dan don’t agree with Becky becoming a surrogate and there’s a comment about Mark ‘exploring’ himself (which we tackle with in the next episode). Something about merging humour with seriousness feels surprisingly refreshing to me. I really like this new modern take for sitcoms like Roseanne and One Day At A Time. Shows like these prove that stories can be funny without being attacking, and topical without being controversial. This mix of humour that never relies on offensive jokes or stereotypes with real societal issues works really well, and does really appeal to a wide audience, both young and old. It doesn’t romanticise the problems of today, but it doesn’t drown you in morbidity either. This theme is something I definitely want to see more of in 2018!

The family dynamic feels so familiar, no matter how you grew up. I have ten siblings, and grew up in the suburban streets of Australia, and yet I see myself and my family so much in this. It feels homely, like I’ve just come home from a long day of work. I’ve never really experienced a show that does this so well, much less at all, and its fantastic to me.
I was emotionally invested the minute I pressed play, and when it ended, I was dying for more. This is a perfect show to binge, which means my heart has to make room for more characters to fit in there. Oh no.

GRADE: 8/10. Above all else, these characters feel real. They’re not exaggerated for fun, they’re not manipulated or written for a certain kind of audience. They are real people, who work hard and have their own beliefs that they defend, but who are also open to change. And I love that about them.
It really does feel like a family – dysfunctional and downright crazy at times, but a family nonetheless. This show is perfect for old fans returning, but also for new fans to delve right into (like me!). I’m super excited to see where we go from here!

Episode 2 (Dress to Impress):

Episode two of the new season was aired right after episode one, and in this one, we are tackling sexualities, surrogacy and sexes. You know, the fun stuff. Andrea (the surrogacy lady) meets the Conners, while Darlene deals with Mark’s first day of school. We are only two episodes in (44mins in total) to the season and so far we’ve tackled political difference, masculinity, surrogacy and, of course, family. This show is seriously an emotional rollercoaster, and I love it!

So, the main star of this episode is Mark, of course. This little nine-year old turns up to his first day of school wearing a skirt, and right off the bat, every family member is supportive of him. Dan and Rosie are confused at first, which is understandable, but in the end, Rosie threatens his classmates and Dan showers him with love, which is the perfect response. And I love how realistic this is. Its 2018 – there are nine-year old little boys out there in the world, dressing in skirts and still wanting to play basketball (as a side note, I also love the little jabs at Darlene being gay – it’s hilarious because Sara Gilbert herself is, in fact, gay).

Mark truly has the purest soul, and I want to adopt him so badly. Dan gets worried about Mark’s safety at school, which is understandable coming from an older grandparent, so he supplies Mark with a pocket knife. When a kid tries to hurt him, Mark in turn offers the knife as a gift. He’s so sweet, and his mother is really doing the whole parenting thing right. At no point is there any resentment or antagonism, everyone supports his decision to continue going to school. I love the message of being true to yourself, no matter what anyone thinks. It really warms my heart to know that more movies and TV shows are taking that plunge into modern times and showing true acceptance to their vast audiences! There’s also good messages about masculinity here – boys can wear skirts and still want to play basketball (the final scene is my absolute favourite)!

Jackie has the best lines in this episode, I think. She truly is a social justice warrior, giving out knowledge about gender non-specificity and talking about surrogacy. I relate to her the most, I think. I know the other characters sigh and make harmful, humorous jabs at her, but really, she spouts out the truth, and is unapologetic for it, and having strong female characters like that on TV really excites me (in case you weren’t aware, she’s a life coach).

The writing and humour doesn’t fail to impress me. When Andrea was meeting the family, I was dying with laughter by their responses. The little gleeful comments from Dan throughout the episode, mixed in with Jackie’s SJW responses, Becky desperately trying to convey her family as normal, and Roseanne’s giant personality, all really make this show special. The seriousness is never downplayed, of course, as Darlene struggles with parenting, while Becky struggles against Roseanne about the surrogacy issue. But really, it’s the realistic interactions between everyone that makes up this show’s strengths.

I absolutely cannot wait to see what they do next. Anything is up for grabs, and that excites me greatly!

GRADE: 8/10. The conversations about acceptance and struggling to change archaic beliefs were tackled so wonderfully here. This is quickly becoming one of my favourite shows to watch, and I hope you agree.

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