A friend the other day mentioned that he thought the final season of Roseanne was one of the most brilliant ending’s to a series. Years ago, when the show was on the air, I watched virtually every episode all through the 8th season. Then for some reason I don’t recall, I stopped watching. The ninth season got horrible reviews and the critics totally trashed her for it, but I also remember everyone disliking the final episode of Seinfeld and I thought that was an excellent way to end the series, so I decided to torrent the final season of Roseanne and this last week I watched it all the way through.
And I’m forced to agree: I can’t think of a single television series I’ve ever watched with a more creative and powerful ending. Roseanne and her writers took an average sitcom and for just one year, turned it into a work of art. Unfortunately, you never get to understand the true brilliance of it until the final ten minutes of the last episode.
So there’s gonna be some spoilers in the rest of this post, so if you are like me and was a fan of the show but somehow missed the last season, I highly recommend downloading it and not reading any further.
The metaphor of Dan cheating on Roseanne I think is explained fairly well in the end, but I found that particularly trippy for some reason to think about her inventing the whole idea that he was cheating on her in order to cope with reality, which was much worse. Also earlier in the season I felt the show did an excellent job of silently communicating the idea that it really doesn’t matter ultimately where your partner happened to put his body parts on some friday night and what really matters is what’s in their heart. There were some other good episodes in the season, such as the one where the grandma goes to visit her mom and reveals their relationship. The episode where she rescues everyone on the train from the terrorists is a little weird, but even that episode makes sense in the context of the final episode.
The other part I particularly liked is the moment they decided to take Darlene’s baby off life-support. The baby did survive, but they all assumed it would die. They let nature take its course, and realized that the same devices keeping it alive were sucking its will to live. Kind of a powerful metaphor of our own modern society, all these social, political and economic systems designed to help us that are actually destroying us from the inside.
But my favorite thing out of the season was what they did with Dan’s boat. In the very first, pilot episode of Roseanne, they introduced Dan’s boat that he was building and showed him dreaming about the day he’d finally push it into the water. Nine years later, he still hadn’t finished it, and finally, his crazy mom burned it down, at the end of the series. A dream neglected and ultimately destroyed… but with that loss, Roseanne frames her novel, and we realize in the last few minutes of the final episode, as she finishes her book, that her dream we thought was long gone, was actually alive and well, and out of all this pain, rises something positive and meaningful.