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Robert Namer
Voice Of America
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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 they’re still hot for each other and they’re 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 Roseanne’s sister Jackie, decked out in a pussy hat and a “Nasty Woman” T-shirt. “What’s up, deplorable?” she greets Roseanne. The premiere episode introduces all sorts of storylines – Dan and Roseanne’s difficulty in paying for their prescription medications, Becky’s 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 they’re delivered with a pause-and-pounce pattern that will be recognizable from the original series. Despite not talking since Trump’s election, the sisters’ jokes are delivered in such a well-worn, comfortable atmosphere that there’s 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

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