Roseanne: 12 Most Controversial Episodes
For nine seasons, Roseanne blazed a new trail for family sitcoms as it related to the average American family like never before. Most sitcoms stuck to the topics and subject matter that got easy-laughs, and while Roseanne is an iconic comedy series, some parts of it had fans stop dead in their tracks as it hit a little too close to home with topics that were no laughing matters. Roseanne Barr had no problem taking on sensitive or taboo issues of the time and putting them at the forefront of her show and handled them with such authenticity and wit that it struck the hearts of viewers. With the Roseanne revival underway, and more hard-hitting current issues being discussed, take a look back at Roseanne’s 12 most controversial episodes:
12. Twenty Years to Life/Dress to Impress (S10, E1 & 2)
Twenty-five years after fans said goodbye to Roseanne with the season nine finale on May 20, 1997, the show made its big return with a special one-hour premiere on March 27, 2018. While a lot had changed in the world, the Conners were just as we left them, just a little older, but still stirring up controversy. Before the revival could even premiere, many were taking a stance because they believed the show would be “too political” now. While the tumultuous state of politics was definitely addressed, it wasn’t a focal point, but audiences still took issue with it. Additionally, the revival’s premiere introduced the show’s first ever gender-nonconforming character with Darlene’s son Mark, which caused a stir for the series’ more conservative viewers.
11. A Bitter Pill to Swallow (S4, E1)
Teen sex was a big topic that TV shows, particularly family sitcoms avoided, but Roseanne was prided on its ability to depict a normal family life, and the reality is, teens have sex, so the issue came to the forefront in the season four episode “A Bitter Pill to Swallow.” In the episode, Becky asks her mother and her Aunt Jackie to help her get birth control, and Roseanne has to decide whether to help and protect her daughter or stand by her disapproval even after she learned that Becky had already been intimate with her boyfriend, Mark. The openness of Roseanne and Becky’s conversation about safe sex and the risks of teen pregnancy were almost unheard of at the time the episode aired. While some may have been shocked or offended, it was merely just another example of Roseanne sticking to its roots and changing the landscape of family sitcoms.