The New Roseanne Takes Place in Another Dimension, Seriously

A lot of us made peace with the Roseanne saga ending back in the late ’90s, but since TV is now a spooooky graveyard full of reanimated sitcom corpses, Dan and Roseanne Conner are back for another season! And though its ratings have declined since the premiere, the new Roseanne is still racking up more viewers than Game Of Thrones — which hopefully doesn’t mean Daenerys and Jon Snow are going move to Illinois and open up a loose meat sandwich joint next season.

Of course, the most buzzed-about aspect of the reboot is how Roseanne Conner (like her actress) is an outspoken supporter of Donald Trump. Now, no one’s saying that a fictional character can’t hold political beliefs that deviate from those of some segment of the viewing public, but in Rosanne’s case, it does seem kind of weird.

Why? Well, lot of Trump’s values conflict with those of the character we know from the original series. Roseanne Conner was decidedly pro-choice, while Trump said there should be “some form of punishment” for women who get abortions. Roseanne memorably threw her friends a gay wedding, while Trump compared same-sex marriage to “unattractive” golf putters (seriously), and his vice president is basically the Hans Gruber to the LGBTQ community’s John McClane. Even some of Roseanne‘s original writers are confused by the character’s switch from a socially liberal, pro-union feminist to someone who would vote for Trump. Roseanne‘s first season culminates with her standing up to a chauvinistic boss whose sexist comments are downright Disney-like compared to what Trump has said about women.

CBS Studios

CBS Studios

Well, it turns out there is an explanation to all of this, and it has to do with multiple realities.

This isn’t some far-out fan theory, like suggesting that ALF was a mass hallucination or Ross Geller was a cyborg sent back in time to suck. This is built into the structure of the show. As we’ve mentioned before, the final season of Roseanne was notoriously wacky, finding Roseanne winning the lottery, going on Jerry Springer, and even battling terrorists aboard a speeding train. Then the series finale somehow upped the ante. As the family is eating Chinese food for like the 900th time …

CBS Studios

… Roseanne zones out, launching into a monologue about how none of this is really happening. The real Roseanne’s life is totally different. Not only did she not win the lottery, but the real Darlene married Mark, not David, who actually married Becky.

CBS Studios

CBS StudiosDude does have a thing for blondes

Most depressingly, she reveals that Dan is actually dead.

CBS Studios

CBS StudiosThe chair also died from ALS in Season 7.

No, Roseanne is not some kind of omnipotent Q-like being. It’s revealed that all this was in a book she’s been writing. Not just the lottery plotline and the Under Siege 2 crap, but the entire goddamn series was in fact Roseanne’s novel — a story within a story. You have to imagine that spouse-swapping business might lead to a rather awkward book launch eventually.

CBS Studios

CBS StudiosWait … did Roseanne invent shipping?

Then the show ends with the widowed Roseanne sitting alone in her living room. Jeez, even if Eddie the dog mauled Frasier and Niles to death, this would still be the most depressing end to a sitcom.

CBS StudiosHuman sitcom.

When it was announced that the show was coming back, it was reported that they were going to simply pretend the final season never happened. The first episode seemingly confirmed that. There’s no lottery money, and barring some sort of Sixth Sense-style twist, Dan is totally alive. But right when you think they’ve completely ignored the craziness of the old finale, this happens:

CBS Studios

CBS Studios

Dan finds the manuscript Roseanne was writing in the finale episode, quipping that the book was a failure because she “killed off the most interesting character.”

CBS Studios“Also, if the ending made any damn sense.”

But remember, Dan wasn’t dead in Roseanne’s novel, which formed the bulk of the series. He was only dead in the “real” world we see at the end of the finale. So if Dan was “killed off,” that means that the manuscript contains not just the story of the show Roseanne, but also the reality we see at the end of the finale. They’re both works of fiction created by this Roseanne, who wrote a novel about herself writing a novel about another version of herself. Yeah, she’s the friggin’ Charlie Kaufman of Lanford, Illinois.

The show we watched for nine seasons was a story within a story within another story. In addition to overtaking the X-Men series for most frustratingly convoluted continuity, Roseanne is also sending a significant message about the reboot: We’re seeing an entirely different reality. If the character seems different, it’s because we’ve never even met this Roseanne before.

The discrepancies between Roseannes doesn’t merely boil down to supporting Trump. This iteration of the character has fundamental differences from the original. Most noticeably, there’s the episode “Roseanne Gets The Chair,” in which Roseanne criticizes Darlene’s “PC” parenting, suggesting that she spank her unruly daughter.

CBS Studios

CBS Studios*Cue laugh track and child services*

This moment completely undercuts one of the cornerstones of the character’s backstory. Roseanne and her sister Jackie were abused by their father as kids. That trauma percolates through the entire series, from the sisters’ conflicted reaction to their dad’s death, to Jackie dealing with a violent boyfriend, to Roseanne inviting David to live with them after discovering that his mother is emotionally abusive.

Most pointedly, in the episode “The Driver’s Seat,” young D.J. takes the family car for a spin, prompting Roseanne to punish him with a spanking … and it seriously messes her up. The episode ends with her tearfully apologizing to D.J.

CBS Studios

CBS Studios

And then she tells him about the abuse she suffered as a child.

CBS Studios

CBS Studios

It’s a genuinely touching episode. So how the hell could a character go from that to flippantly hopping on the spanking bandwagon? It would be like if Batman was suddenly all in favor of families getting gunned down in alleyways. The only logical explanation within the world of the show is that the new Roseanne is completely different person. Meaning that us viewers have been hopping between realities, like Jerry O’Connell on that ’90s show that will inevitably be rebooted at some point in the future.

You (yes, you) should follow JM on Twitter, or check out the podcast Rewatchability.

Nobody’s telling you that you can’t write your own alternate-multiverse show, so pick up a beginner’s guide to Celtx and get to it.

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