So, if you’re anything like me (human, eyes-having), you probably already know about what’s in Netflix’s ‘Watch Instantly’ cave of wonders. “Look at this stuff/Isn’t it neat?/Wouldn’t you think my collection’s complete?/Wouldn’t you think I’m the girl/The girl who has … everything?”–You Guys. You’re probably already in the middle of watching one of the amazing television series they offer every episode of–pop in a Lunesta, throw on some American Dad! Season 4, enjoy the ride. But, shut up. In fact: throw your computer out. Because every episode of Roseanne is on there right now, unannounced (you know when something’s in your CAVEMAN (non-Instant) queue and then they’re like “becomes available on Instant on such-and-such-date? It didn’t say that about Roseanne); and even if you already know this to be true, it bears repeating–that fucking show is fucking perfect in every goddamn way, the end. For real. I grew up on this shit, it’s still re-run on TV, I always counted it among my favorites; but, what I never realized before sitting down and burning through the early seasons like someone was paying me to (no one was or is) is that most of my other favorite shows, plus most of the other shows ever made, can suck a dick when compared to Roseanne.“Chill out, Gabe, that’s rude and you don’t even mean it.”–You Guys. Yeah, maybe. But, nope. Roseanne is incredible and this is why:
1. Roseanne can’t act in the beginning, but is like a tickled schoolgirl in the presence of Laurie Metcalf’s and John Goodman’s uber-excellent skill-perfection at acting. Watching Roseanne watch them do their thang (at which they are both INCREDIBLY next-level and TV was lucky to ever have them inside it) is so lovely. She’s like an audience member who’s wandered up out of the bleachers for a better view, then has to say a HILARIOUS line on cue. The show is taped live and obviously edited, so what we’re seeing are just the best takes; but even still, Roseanne seems on the verge of laughing 80% of the time (in a great way, not annoying, swear). The kids crack her up too, as I’m sure the camera men did, and the caterers, and everyone she ever met. But, when she’s acting with Aunt Jackie or Dan, which she NODOY ALWAYS IS, you can tell she’s having the time of her fucking life, and being SCHOOLED in the process. This was lost on me as a child and teen.
2. Darlene and Becky actually LOVE each other, even though in your memories they’re always bickering in a really predictable way. I always thought Becky was a stuck-up bitch and Darlene was a smart-ass bitch and the two of them were always scheming on how to murder each other with Bart Simpson-isms. Nope, not the case, AT ALL. In fact, they’re incredibly realistic for sisters who get along but have to share a room and are at different stages of puberty. Did you know that Becky like … invites Darlene to parties with her? I didn’t! And they talk about boys? Like, both of them, to each other? They think each other is … so weird, but they’re right, and they don’t hate each other about it. Also, I had no idea that Becky and Roseanne were so tight, I always thought Becky was kind of an outcast because she was “pretty.” NOPE: Roseanne totally fosters Becky’s girly side–scrimps and saves for new dresses, helps her do her hair, is always telling her to borrow her earrings… It’s fucking adorable. Sure, Mark changes everything, but not for like 4 years. This was lost on me as a child and teen.
3. Nothing like any of this shit would every come anywhere close to a TV screen in 2011.
It’s hard, in 2011, to look back and see what Roseanne herself was, as a talent, before the series Roseanne was made, ran for 9 years (getting super weird by the end, but c’mon that’s a crazy long run), then went pretty crazy, and kind of disappeared, but is always ‘coming back,’ like even right now when she’s on every talkshow and releasing books. But, like, if you were a Hollywood exec in the ‘80’s, with a 90lbs cell phone and the first-ever roll of sushi sitting on your desk, and someone handed you a VHS of some comic named Roseanne Barr doing stand-up about ANYTHING, would you ever be like “give her a show”? Especially if your assistant came into your office in the middle of the tape to remind you that she has no experience acting, could definitely deliver one-liners but would take about 4 years to figure out the arc of a scene and how to keep a straight face in front of a live studio audience, but is also going to insist that she carry the show in every way and that it be pretty sad as opposed to funny? The answer then was yes, right now it would be NO. We still have “honest but funny shows about not-rich families in not-Coastal regions,” but it’s nothing like this. This was a gamble, a stupid one technically, and it RULED. Also lost on me as a child and teen.
4. Seasons 2 and 3 are largely written by or story edited by Joss Whedon (sorry real Gabe, when you go on vacation, the Joss Whedon silence ENDS). Ugh, you guys, who’s with me? Do I even begin? Well, everything you already know and love about Joss Whedon’s work applies to early Roseanne in spades. And, it’s no wonder that this show would fit SO WELL into his oeuvre of spectacularness. I was Joss-Whedoning-out with a friend of mine over amilliondrinks this weekend, when she brought up the excellentest point ever: what was Joss Whedon’s mom like? We know his grandfather wrote The Donna Reed Show, his father wrote Golden Girls, and he wrote Roseanne, Buffy, etc. But what about the woman who clearly influenced them all, in her way, to love and respect women as megapowerful and the best?
According to Wiki: His mother, Lee Stearns, taught history at Riverdale Country School as Lee Whedon, and was a novelist.
One more click on the Wiki brought me to a NYT profile of Joss Whedon, which explained that none of her novels were ever published, she just wrote them for fun over the summer. & but mostly .
Most Joss-Whedon-y moment of all? Darlene’s reluctant recital of her contest-winning poem about being a tomboy:
4b. Just quickly, on the topic of unexpected writers making Roseanne incredible, one of my favorite epsides so far (“PMS, I Love You”) was written by Tom Arnold and it is str8-up high art:
You guys: Tom Arnold wrote that. Yes, that Tom Arnold.
If you’re not convinced now, I don’t know what more I can say. Maybe we’re different, you and I. Good luck with that!
MAJOR THANKS FOR THE SCREENGRABS, THIRD & DELAWARE, YOU FUCKING INCREDIBLY GENIUS WEBSITE OF PURE GOLD.