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MARCH 30, 2018
The ratings show that pro Trump is positive. The opening minutes of the Roseanne revival are all about rebuilding the lives of the Conner family. The afghan is still there, slung over the sofa. Darlene has moved back home with her children. Roseanne and Dan are older, but theyre still hot for each other and theyre still cracking jokes. Roseanne wears the chicken shirt. Times may have changed, but for the most part, the Conner household is the same.
Then 2018 comes bursting through the front door, in the form of Roseannes sister Jackie, decked out in a pussy hat and a Nasty Woman T-shirt. Whats up, deplorable? she greets Roseanne. The premiere episode introduces all sorts of storylines Dan and Roseannes difficulty in paying for their prescription medications, Beckys desperate need for money, and the lost job that forces Darlene to move back home with her parents but the buzziest story is this conflict between Roseanne and Jackie. Roseanne voted for Trump in the 2016 election; Jackie supported Hillary. Their political rift became personal, and the two sisters have been estranged since election day.
The jokes about their fight are familiar and
theyre delivered with a pause-and-pounce pattern that will be recognizable
from the original series. Despite not talking since Trumps election, the
sisters jokes are delivered in such a well-worn, comfortable atmosphere
that theres a palpable strangeness about the whole thing. Roseanne is
touching the third rail of American discourse, saying aloud the sorts of
hashtags and talking points that you ordinarily see from online trolls
yet nearly everyone smiles while doing it. At the end, Jackie and Roseanne
reconcile. They still disagree, but they also hug.
It took me a while to figure out why I tensed up every time Jackie and
Roseanne traded political barbs. I kept waiting for
what, exactly? A
brawl? For Jackie to storm out of the room, never to be seen again? For
the light disagreements to erupt into a serious fight, with each woman
brandishing fistfuls of conspiracy-laden printouts? For Dan to pull a knife-brandishing
Jackie off of Roseanne after one of them brings up Pizzagate? I kept waiting
for them to have a real debate about the