Roseanne Conner can easily handle her spoiled granddaughter’s bogarting of the washing machine, treating her home like a hotel (and Roseanne like her personal housekeeper), and referring to her granny as a crazy hillbilly. But a bum knee, diabetes, and Dan’s suggestion that she use the Easy Climb 5000 stair lift force Roseanne to take on a much more formidable opponent: aging. And so far, it’s got her on the ropes.
Roseanne’s knee is in such bad shape that even routine driving, like all the stop signs her Uber customers expect her to obey, causes her immense pain. As Dan reported after an expensive trip to the pharmacy in the season premiere, the family can barely afford pain medication, so some pills and an ice pack are all that’s standing between Roseanne and immobility.
It’s a harsh, relatable scenario for many people, as is the more comically relatable reaction Dan gets when he shows off the Easy Climb he procured “for the very reasonable price of, our neighbor died and they’re tearing down his house.” Roseanne initially refuses to take a seat and glide comfortably to the second floor of 714 Delaware Street. She isn’t old, she protests. Even with her ice pack upstairs and the offer of a pain-free ride to retrieve it, Roseanne’s vanity wins out, prompting Dan to race the remotely controlled chair versus his hobbled spouse to the top of the stairs, narrating the contest like it’s a day at the track.
Here’s a good time to point out what many of those think pieces have overlooked about the Roseanne revival’s ratings success: John Goodman. Both Goodman and Dan were beloved during the series’ original run, and both he and the Conner paterfamilias have grown only more charming in the last 20 years, in large part because they seem to have genuine appreciation and affection for Roseanne — real-life and TV versions — and the irreverent humor that continues to see the Conner family through their health, economic, and family dramas.
Like, for instance, Roseanne and Dan’s issues with the way Darlene is raising Harris. Their methods of parenting are outdated, Darlene protests, as she rewards Harris’s selfishness and rudeness toward her family with lenience and spending money. But laundry day brings their differences to a head. Because Harris has tied up the washer and dryer for several days preparing her thrift-shop finds to be sold in her Etsy shop, Roseanne is out of clean underwear. Something concocted from a coffee filter and a scrunchie is filling in for Hanes (ahem, her way), and when Harris drops her bombshell that she thinks she’s better than her “hillbilly” Lanford folk, Roseanne soaks her head in the kitchen sink.
This, remember, is the mom who once took her daughters’ bedroom door off its hinges when teenage Becky refused to talk to her, so, yeah, it’s fair to say Roseanne has not mellowed as a grandma.
But Darlene is forced to admit she isn’t in the right, either. Harris has been getting away with bratty behavior because of Darlene’s guilt about moving her kids to Lanford after losing her job. Harris tells her mom how unhappy she is, how she doesn’t fit in in Lanford, and those are feelings that make her all the more like a mini-Darlene. That doesn’t get her off the hook for stocking her Etsy biz with shoplifted merch, which Darlene and Roseanne discover when Harris drops some of her just-laundered goods: After Darlene tells her daughter she’s gonna have to tough it out in Lanford for the next three years, she also makes her shut down the Etsy shop and share all her social-media passwords.
Turns out there are some good things about being older, like mom and dad’s experience dealing with rebellious teenagers. (“You’re smart for a kid, but you’re still dumb for a person,” Roseanne tells Harris.) Instead of their well-earned “told you so,” Roseanne and Dan praise Darlene for choosing to be a parent instead of a friend to her daughter in the end. The trio’s bit about how there should be books to help you learn how to be a parent could come off as hokey, if not for the special chemistry between Roseanne, Goodman, and Sara Gilbert that’s made this revival shine.
• Roseanne, in response to Darlene’s assertion that it’s now cool to wear used clothing and look poor: “Yeah, it’s all fun and games until you’re reusing your diabetes needles.” Except she pronounces it “diabeetus,” Wilfred Brimley–style.
• Harris thinks her life sucks. “All our lives suck,” says Roseanne. “That’s why we put marshmallows on yams!”
• Why does Becky need to wash blood out of her waitress uniform? “Bottomless margaritas and a dart tournament.”
• Dan and Roseanne fall asleep on the couch after dinner, snoozing from “Wheel to Kimmel.”
• Dan: “We missed all the shows about black and Asian families.” Roseanne: “They’re just like us. There, now you’re all caught up.”
• Harris blames the shoplifted clothes on her schoolmates, who gave them to her without taking off the security tags first. “God, I’m sorry your henchmen are stupid, Riddler,” an unsympathetic Darlene responds.