May 21, 2019

"The Conners" Is Better without Roseanne

“ABC’s The Conners, the show formerly known as Roseanne, grapples, textually and extratextually, with the abrupt departure of a larger-than-life personality. In the world of the show, Roseanne Conner has recently died; in the real world, Roseanne Barr was fired for racist comments, following years of virulently hateful, conspiratorial, and generally Trumpian remarks. In the world of the show, Roseanne’s departure is a tragedy. In the real world, it’s just deserts. Even more just: The show works fine without her.

The Conners picks up three months after Roseanne’s death. The family is grieving but functioning, still cracking the sour, black jokes that make their difficulties bearable. (Lots of depressing cable dramas could stand to be reminded that you can take on serious, soul-crushing subjects and keep the jokes.) Aunt Jackie (Laurie Metcalf) won’t stop reorganizing the kitchen, Becky (Alicia Goranson) is avoiding helping in every way she can, Dan (John Goodman) is sleeping on the couch—which is finally being cleaned; gone, for now, is the iconic crocheted blanket—and Darlene (Sara Gilbert) is assuming the mantle of the matriarch.
“You already live here and you’re a scary little tyrant. You’re the obvious choice to take over for Mom,” Becky tells Darlene. “Why are you saying such nice things to me!” Darlene replies, sincerely flattered.

Dan and Darlene— Goodman and Gilbert, really—are now the show’s main characters, a recalibration that gives the entire enterprise a slightly more ensemble feel. Over The Conners’ first two episodes, the cast balloons to include a number of recognizable guest stars, recurring characters, and new faces, like DJ’s wife Geena, on leave from the military. (Maya Lynne Robinson takes over the role as a series regular, replacing Xosha Roquemore.) The plot is maximalist as well. The Conners are contending not only with grief but with addiction, divorce, teen sex, and coming out. It can feel a bit like five “very special episodes” packed into one, but hey, the show is just trying to keep busy.”

Read more

JJ Editor's Daily Picks

"The biggest topic in British political circles on Monday wasn’t the country’s impending departure from the European Union. It was milkshakes..."

"I often disagree with Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., but I've been disturbed by the idea that he should be run out of the Republican Party just because he believes President Trump committed impeachable offenses."

"The Icelandic band Hatari, whose members are quite vocal in their animosity towards Israel, held up Palestinian flags... Madonna, likewise, had two of her performers wear Israeli and Palestinian flags on their costumes."

"To celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds" premiering at the Cannes Film Festival, I turn to movie critic Roger Ebert's old review of "Raiders of the Lost Ark." (Trust me on this one.)"

"The money is already here—and has been for years. In the midst of a housing crisis, an injection of cash into the superheated real-estate market seems likely to cause an uptick in evictions and displacement."

"Parents concerned about YouTube debate whether to let their children have their own channels; some forbid it, others send them to summer camp..."

"‘I Had Completely Lost the Knack for Staying Alive..." Warmer weather brings daffodils, rhubarb at the farmer’s market — and, for some, despair."

"With his new book, Howard Stern proves that his rightful place is among the prophets and moral visionaries, not the ‘shock jocks’"

"I’m terrified of parenting in the anti-vaxxer age: Anti-vaccine propaganda isn’t just harmful to children. It threatens to erode our entire sense of community."

"...doctors are starting to think more about specific nutrients that feed tumor cells. That is, how what we eat affects how cancers grow..."

" represents an impressive achievement: a victory of humankind against the chaos that pervades the universe."

"If trends continue, in 20 years the majority of the world’s Jews will be living in Israel. The United States will see a continuing decline in overall numbers, with a growing observant Jewish population..."