People usually think I’m kidding when I tell them Roseanne is my favorite show. Well, I’m not. In short, I like it because I think it’s funny, but so are a lot of things, and telling people I think it’s funny usually doesn’t motivate them to watch it (when it comes up. It’s not like I just go around telling people to watch Roseanne all the time). For whatever reason, most people under the age of 25 seem to place the idea of watching Roseanne in the same category as, I don’t know, watching Gigli on a loop while their parents audibly have sex in the next room. I don’t think this is justified. In fact, I think Roseanne portrays a source of relief from one of the biggest problems haunting the “MySpace Generation,” and is still a worthwhile show twenty years later.
The MySpace Generation (or group of people now coming out of college or whatever you want to call them) has been given a raw deal. On one hand, we grew up during the self-esteem craze, where every one of us probably has a closet full of trophies from a sport we sucked at. On top of that, the emergence of things like LiveJournal and MySpace provided a platform that made essentially everything about us falsely seem interesting and important. Further still, we grew up in the ‘90’s, when the economy was thriving and America still felt like the best country imaginable. I think a good number of people developed the idea that they were some kind of secret genius, and that things would somehow work out beautifully after college. Looking back, not many other alternatives were ever really emphasized.
Meanwhile, the economy fell apart and a harsh reality began to sink in. I’d go further into it, but I really don’t understand what happened on any significant or intelligible level. For all intents and purposes, a lot of people who were programmed to expect an unrealistically bright future are now un- or underemployed. These are some pretty cruel circumstances, and a lot of the MySpace Generation is scrambling. Understandably, a lot of feelings of shame and bitterness are developing amongst 20-somethings.
Then there’s Roseanne. Roseanne is unique because, unlike most sitcoms, the drama comes from outside forces rather than wacky misunderstandings, or the stupidity of the characters. Other than DJ (f–k him), the members of the Connor nuclear family are both funny and notably intelligent. Unlike most of the MySpace Generation, Dan even has a set of marketable skills (with his motorcycle fixing and what not). Yet, the Connor family endeavors always seem to come up short; Dan’s entrepreneurial efforts always fall through, and Roseanne, who worked in some sort of sweatshop run by George Clooney in the first installment of the series, consistently bounces from one humiliating job to another.
Still, the characters never let their situation define them. Obviously the show is centered on blue-collar themes and elements (things like the hardships of living below the poverty line), but these aren’t what make it so endearing. Instead, what sells the show is the Connor family’s ability to stay vibrant and stay light (figuratively speaking… they’re pretty fat) through everything. In a similar situation where no one is quite getting theirs, the Connors display a more fun alternative than shame and bitterness. I think it’s really refreshing and great. Otherwise, it has great holiday episodes and John Goodman is always good for a few yucks, but that stuff is harder to write about.