TVRG Snapshot: Roseanne Season 2 (1989-90)

 Looking for an established show to binge or relive old glories and blunders?  If mild spoilers don't deter and readers like a preview of what they can't wait to see, take a glance and locate a new series to add to your collection.  Look back  and explore the parent series for The Conners, Roseanne, which enjoyed 10 successful seasons from 1988-97 and a 2018 singular season revival.  
Check out SEASON 1 to gain a sense of history for this landmark series.

The sisters locked horns and heads many times during the season.    The action dramatic Season 1 finale which Roseanne Conner (Roseanne Barr/Arnold), her sister Jackie (Laurie Metcalf) and best friend Crystal (Natalie West) pulled a dramatic Norma-Rae-esque uprising and quitting their hellish factory gig.  Jackie decided to take a bold stroke and first enrolled in a police academy followed by a rewarding gig for Lanford PD followed by a stable romance.  Roseanne exhibited her greatest angst being between menial jobs, all the while pushing on and strongly holding her family together.  The kids began to age with considerable storylines focusing on Becky Conner (Lecy Goranson) diving deep into the teen waters and getting into trouble.  Despite a bleak year for the lead character, she fancied herself in events to look forward to such as her annual Halloween celebration as well as fielding the chaos of extended family converging under her roof.  A notable event occurred as the sisters exhibited a brief estrangement over Roseanne's meddling in a swing toward the dramatic.  The season wrapped beautifully on Roseanne's birthday giving her taxed character some well-deserved TLC to explore herself.

Roseanne officially overtook The Cosby Show for 1st place, nosing them out by three tenths and breaking their 4 season hold.  Little changed behind the scenes save for the lead, Roseanne Barr became Roseanne Arnold in January 1990.  Divorcing after 16 years on January 16, four days later Roseanne married comedian Tom Arnold.  Coincidentally, this was Arnold's debut season as Arnie, a recurring character over the next three seasons.  A notable change came with more production sets being used, particularly Jackie's small but chic studio apartment.

    Roseanne's strong actions inspired everyone around her, yet her greatest struggle was what to do with herself while battling the unemployment blues.  Jackie emerged stronger and consistent, evolving from a cocktail waitress with loose affairs to a law enforcement career followed by a welcome romance with Gary (Brian Kerwin).  Becky began high school and tested every last nerve her parents had with blatant rebellion as well as maturing into a young woman.  Even Darlene (Sara Gilbert) turned a corner into teenage territory shadowing her sister on her adventures.  Crystal evolved from a sad duckling to a venturesome woman, foreshadowing events to come as she began mixing with Dan's (John Goodman) father Ed (Ned Beatty). 

    The nuclear six cast members remained intact from the prior season.  Showrunners began placing more emphasis on developing the recurring roster, inviting back prior guest stars Estelle Parsons (Beverly Harris), John Randolph (John Randolph) and Ned Beatty to mix in.  Brian Kerwin became a fixture more relied on as Jackie's boyfriend Gary, and Tom Arnold made his mulleted debut as Arnie (the 80's spilled over to the 90's this season, crazy hair and all).  All core players exhibited proper exposure and plotting except young DJ (Michael Fishman).  Expected, because what can one really write for an 8 year old?

    If social issues were addressed in the earlier seasons, they came punchy and lighthearted.  Stresses from unemployment became a welcome and fitting theme for this season as Roseanne Conner struggled after losing her longtime career.  Youth-based issues such as teenage alcohol experimenting became a welcome segue from the usual noise as Becky Conner and a girlfriend raided the liquor cabinet while the adults remained away.  Beyond that, the writing rarely touched upon social issues and chose laughs over serious subject matters.
    Life's events were where Season 2 hit paydirt.  Due to Season 1 setting up the premise, Halloween, birthdays and other events were not adhered to in the timeline, doubled with the 1988 WGA strike starting the fall season late.  Roseanne tackled more events, and did them flawlessly.  Halloween started a staple tradition of an annual display of ghoulish disgust for the remainder of the season, Thanksgiving expanded upon extended family and set up future plotting for later seasons.  Even simple nuances such as an episode which Roseanne is absent and Jackie fills her void proved a refreshing departure, as the home ran better with less strife!

    The characters are at their finest this season, and with plenty of plot progression and development.  Roseanne remained no-nonsense yet is at her kindest in the earliest seasons, exhibiting a maturity and holding others to higher standards.  Jackie's story matured as she found a new adventure working in the police force and exhibited more purpose than supporting the chaos in the household while using the washing machine/grabbing a meal. Season 2 also developed Becky's rebellious streak as she turned 15 as she developed typical combative behaviors as well as experimenting with reckless adventures.

    Realism was a founding cornerstone for earlier seasons, and it is best displayed this season.  The dramatic hook in Season 1's finale featured Jackie, Roseanne and Crystal turning their backs on their dingy dungeon of a factory.  Jackie received a lifestyle upgrade as a cop, Crystal embarked on a beautiful career in cosmetics, and Roseanne suffered the burns of being unemployed with little skills and education.  Unlike competing shows where characters lose jobs to wind up in a brighter adventure, Roseanne displayed the bleak realities of being part of the working class in a declining factory town.  Saddled with a horrific telemarketing gig in the season opener, she had to get greasy working in a demeaning fast-food joint to be talked down to by a prick teenager who fired her.   Only to sweep up hair and leave her hungering for better use of her skills in a friendly salon.  If any character suffered the most this season, it was the lead character who eloquently depicted struggles people exhibit hanging onto jobs they don't love.  The audience could feel her angst and disillusionment.

    This season did little which should be forgotten.  However, for viewers who wish to experience the entire series without scratching their heads, don't get too caught up with details and consistency, especially when it comes to visiting family.  Season 2 rounded up all the grandparents for Thanksgiving, and they seemed like normal, domestic folks.  This changes in later seasons, so just enjoy the simplicity in Season 2 and try not to ask too many questions in later seasons.  Dan was front and center in a prominent role, yet experienced little to no development this season.  He worked, he comforted a depressed Roseanne, fielded the kids and engaged in insulting banner with Jackie.  With the exception of a refreshing episode where Jackie fills in for Roseanne and the two bond, this was not the season of Dan.
    The first 3 seasons are as good as it gets with consistency and simplicity.  These were the seasons Roseanne Barr let the writers work their magic uninterrupted and they delivered consistency and magic.  The later seasons take several departures from reality and consistency, so if viewers love a simple show, get to know the first 3 seasons.

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