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Roseanne, Tuesdays 8:00 pm on ABC, Reviewed

In this political climate our country has been torn apart, the edges fray away from the middle. What has that done to families? Can a country as diverse and splintered as we are now ever pull back together? Is there a safe place for any of us? Can a family with very different beliefs still love one another?

These are the big questions posed on the new Roseanne show.

In an interview with John Goodman, Sara Gilbert and Goodman acted out a little scene from Roseanne. She then asked, “Would you do the show again?”
Goodman: “In a heartbeat.” and the ball began to roll.

Sara Gilbert is an executive producer.

“I feel it is important to bring it back right now, our country is so divided. This is a family that politically can be totally different from each other but it doesn’t mean they don’t love each other. And I think that’s what were missing right now. Everybody’s so angry, no one’s listening to each other. Everyone is getting more and more extreme on each side. People love this family and I felt it would really be a unifying force and give us a chance to talk about these kind of things.”

“So, to me, it is a great opportunity to have a family that can be divided by politics, but still is filled with love. And what a great thing to bring into this country right now.”

2018 finds the Conner family facing the multitude of challenges that is modern day America. Older sister Becky (Lecy Goranson) is widower, at 43 she holds down a waitressing job. She lies about her age as to be a surrogate mother in order to earn $50,000 to bring her out of debt and maybe make a small down payment on a house. The woman who hires her to be the surrogate is actress Sarah Chalke who replaced Lecy in season 6. She is template of the Whole Foods mom, ionized water drinking, organic food eating, untouched by the economic ravages around her. My hope is this character highlights the glaring blind spot that we on the well-off left have in regards to the concerns of our fellow citizens.

Darlene Conner (Sara Gilbert) has lost her job and moved back home with her two children ostensibly to “take care of her parents.” Her daughter- Harris (Emma Kenney) is the typically surely teen, just like Darlene was and her son- Mark, at 10 years old wears skirts and silver boots to school. When asked by Roseanne if he feels he is a boy or a girl, he response without hesitation. “Boy!” John Goodman, as the grandfather is concerned that Mark (Ames McNamara) will get beat up and slips him a pocket knife for his first day at his new school which Mark is then caught giving as a gift to the boy who is bullying him.

D.J. (Michael Fishman) has returned home from the military after serving in Syria. His wife is still deployed over there and without mention, we see his daughter- Mary (Jayden Rey) is black and his marriage interracial. A prayer is said at dinner for the safe return of her mother.

The most real realness was Jackie’s (Laurie Metcalf) admission. A strong Hillary supporter, showing up at the house in a pussy hat, admits that by the time it came to vote she was so torn and confused that she pulled the lever for Jill Stein. For me, that underlines how difficult this election was for everyone. Roseanne and Jackie have not spoken, they are angry, and life is much more difficult. For a time the sisters were torn apart and now are trying to meet somewhere near a middle that we can no longer define.

The number of issues brought up in the first half hour episode was astounding, each to hopefully be explored in later episodes. They hit on unemployment, health care, loved ones away in the military, elderly parents, rising pharmaceutical prices, poverty, a woman’s right to her body, gender assignment, broken families and acceptance. With a heaping dose of our political divide.

I see this as a vehicle, if it lives up to the hopes of the producers, to help us talk to each other. I have not seen very many shows that don’t represent people with great apartments and interesting jobs. We need this view into a family, so diverse, so American to see how the working class is doing now days. It’s not so pretty anymore and this show brought humor and compassion to each issue.

Check it out, whatever your politics are.

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