After years of talking about it, Roseanne and John Goodman are finally reviving “Roseanne.” I’m not sure how that’s going to fare, but I am curious if what they’ll do with it. As one of my favorite shows of all time, I usually split the show up in sections. Seasons one through five are great, seasons five to seven are mediocre, season eight is abysmal, while season nine is unwatchable right down to its insulting series finale. Will the revival be mind numbingly dramatic like the final two seasons, or will Roseanne go back to the original premise where the Conners are just trying to get by with good humor?
The hit sitcom from the nineties broke new ground featuring lower middle class characters working every day to make ends meet, all the while centering on two characters that weren’t quite what America thought of as models at the time. The sitcom has its ups and downs during its nine seasons, with some really unique developments, including show runner Roseanne’s discussion of spousal abuse, child abuse, homosexuality, racism, and so much more. Through it all, it’s a hilarious comedy with often compelling turns by Roseanne, Laurie Metcalf and John Goodman. The series remains on my top ten of all time, and if you haven’t checked out the series by now, here are my top five “Roseanne” episodes. It was no easy feat, since the show has so many more memorable episodes worthy of this list.
Let me know your favorite episodes below!
Fights and Stuff
This would have made my top five but because it’s such a massive departure from what “Roseanne” was throughout its run, it only gets an honorable mention. After Dan has a heart attack at Darlene’s wedding, he comes home to a doting and very restrictive Roseanne. After going out to work out and go for walks, Roseanne learns he’s been sneaking junk food. This revelation culminates in a confrontation that escalates in to a massive fight between Dan and Roseanne, as they voice their long held resentment, anger, and frustration toward each other. Goodman and Roseanne are excellent in their back and forth exchanges, and it’s a wonderful look at a man who can’t forget the past, while Roseanne let her pain go a long time ago.
5. Lies My Father Told Me
This is an only slightly dramatic episode but one that puts John Goodman’s excellent acting ability on display. After Dan learns that his long mentally ill mother is being institutionalized, he pits the blame fully on his distant father who he always blamed for his mother’s mental crash. After a drunken episode at friend Crystal’s house, Dan is given the full truth about his mother. She was always mentally ill, and his dad made himself a punching bag for Dan to keep her looking like a saint to Dan. Eventually Dan has to come to grips with the fact that everything he ever knew in life was a lie, leading to a rather emotional moment with Roseanne.
4. Workin’ Overtime
A lot of the earlier episodes of the series were about showing how hard Roseanne and Dan work, and how much of an uphill battle it was to maintain a job and family life. After barely catching any sleep, they have to leave their house in the charge of the kids, all the while Roseanne is forced to work mandatory overtime at her factory. You can just sense how absolutely exhausted both characters are throughout the episode, and we’re given a heartfelt moment of clarity in the finale when Roseanne, fed up with the chaos in her house, meets a widowed waitress who has nothing but quiet and solitude.
3. Toto, We’re Not In Kansas Anymore
This is another wacky and hilarious episode based around a situation that is beyond the control of the Conners. Much to their surprise, Lanford is experiencing a tornado, and the family decides to hunker down in their house, hoping to make it out of the massive twister as safely as humanly possible. Dan tries to ready the family, as Roseanne cracks wise. Meanwhile Darlene and DJ are much too comfortable with the oncoming twister, Becky is freaking out, friend Crystal is terrified, and Roseanne worries for Jackie who is caught in the middle of the storm. Mayhem literally ensues in the household making for a very funny but very tense episode.
Back in the nineties the shows that knew how to celebrate Halloween were The Simpsons, Home Improvement, and Roseanne. Showing an apparent love for the holiday, the series gave us a Halloween themed episode every from season two to the last, and while they all garnered diminishing returns in quality, “BOO!” is easily my favorite of the bunch. Everything just works here, and every single scene is hysterical. Dan and Roseanne are trying to scare each other with increasingly sick and demented pranks, Darlene embraces the holiday to a disturbing degree, and Roseanne helps Becky get back in to the spirit. There’s a haunted house, and a great prank played on the kids mid-way. “BOO!” is just a wacky and hilarious episode that shows why Dan and Roseanne love the holiday. It gives them one day off from their workaday lives.
1. April Fool’s Day
This episode is one of the first times “Roseanne” would break the fourth wall and get kind of meta on the audience. This episode personified the premise of “Roseanne” in where it voiced frustrations of the lower middle working class, all of whom are shafted in taxes, while the rich aren’t. The episode literally revolves around Dan and Roseanne trying to bring their taxes in as the deadline looms, and they’re driven nuts by an intrusive Jackie, and an overhead dramatic sting that plays whenever Jackie warns of potential punishments from the IRS. The episode also stages a hilarious confrontation in the IRS office, as well as a great PSA by John Goodman insisting that he loves the IRS. Meanwhile Roseanne stages a small coup in the IRS offices, venting her anger about how the wealthy are able to hire lawyers to figure out loopholes in the taxes, and how the poor should get together and tax the government for once. It’s very overt social commentary and irritation masked behind some laugh out loud moments of comedy. “April Fool’s Day” has the spirit of “Roseanne” and holds true to its premise, while also getting silly by making the IRS a villainous presence that breaks every wall of the series.