By Alon Preiss.
Well, the reviews are in, and everyone says that The Conners is better than the Roseanne reboot.
This is true. And yet….
In The Conners, of course, the family matriarch, once played by Roseanne Barr, has died. I’m a good lefty, but I took no pleasure in the downfall of this Trump supporter and her Trump-supporting character. While her erratic behavior justified termination, it didn’t preclude a compassionate intervention. It’s what I would have done, if I ran ABC. In spite of Roseanne Barr’s erratic behavior over the years, the writers and actors returned to work with her again last year. I have sympathy for people who from time to time say stupid things; and I liked the show.
Now, the spinoff: The Conner family eulogizes their lost matriarch, and given Roseanne Barr’s punishment, the mourning for Roseanne Conner — who, after all, was Roseanne Bar — seemed worse than hypocritical. And since the reason for Roseanne Conner’s “death” was Roseanne Barr’s racist tweet, the death itself was not organic to the plot of the show, which has now lurched in an unintended direction.
Furthermore, those of us who know Roseanne Conner like family know that she would never, ever, ever have died of an opioid addiction. Because the show itself was about triumphing over this kind of thing. Sure, she would eventually have died of cancer, or something, but an addiction to painkillers was something she would have beaten.
You see? Roseanne was not a show about letting adversity win; it was a show about surviving. Any person can become a drug addict, and die of an overdose. But Roseanne Conner was more than just a person, more than just a character, and if Roseanne Conner could succumb to an opioid addiction from a bum knee, then there is no hope for anyone.
Taken as a show, The Conners is great: funny, well-acted, sad. Just about perfect. Taken in context, it’s a betrayal.