Roseanne: The Complete Fifth Season

Roseanne is one of the best and most enjoyable sitcoms, and its fifth season provides 25 episodes that delivered real depictions of working class American life peppered with sarcasm, wit and heart. The weaknesses and strengths of the Connor family are tested in a tumultuous season where Becky moves away, Dan’s bike shop goes out of business, Roseanne loses her job and subsequently opens the Lunch Box, and Darlene’s boyfriend, David, moves in, amongst several other important events. Some of the more successful episodes include Dan and Roseanne’s 20th anniversary, the discovery that Jackie is in a physically abusive relationship and Darlene’s revelation that she wants to go to art school in Chicago. In the latter episode, Roseanne (the actor) is given the opportunity to play the full range of dynamics that exist within her fictional character. We witness her acerbic wit, farcical psycho-anger, maternal protectiveness and struggle to overcome her fears in order to allow those she loves to do as they wish with their lives. She is truly the glue that holds the show together, likeable, but not in an obvious way, and funny as all hell. In fact, most of the acting on the show is of the stellar quality. This is something that even non-fans of John Goodman (of which there are a puzzling many) can agree upon. The season earned Emmy awards for both Roseanne and Laurie Metcalf. Metcalf, who plays Jackie to brilliant and pathetic heights, is at her best when her veins are bulging out of her face and neck, expressing her utter exasperation with her life and more often than not, sister Roseanne. Despite its portrayal of characters and lives not so uncommonly filled with disappointments and cruel jokes, Roseanne is a sitcom that makes the viewer love life via the experiences of the Connor family. What person wouldn’t want to be in such a cool tag-team partnership as Dan and Roseanne’s, to be able to make fun of and have authority over one’s children with such wit and flair, or to outsmart one’s neighbours and employers? Because it is television, these elements are carried out cleverly and rarely fail. But because it is good television none of it is blown to fantasy proportions, allowing people to relate. This isn’t to say that the show is flawless. The writers definitely went overboard in following seasons, allowing Becky to be played by a completely different actor only to bring back the "real” Becky later on without explanation. This was one of a number of strange twists the show later took, combined with what grew to be the real Roseanne’s increasingly strange public persona, which possibly led to its demise amongst fans and critics. However, that doesn’t take away from the many good years we had watching the Connor family grow up, complain, fall in love, lose jobs, have small successes and complain some more. (Anchor Bay)