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Hear us out: Maybe the new Roseanne takes place in an alternate reality

Photo: Adam Rose (ABC)

The return of Roseanne has been rocky, to say the least. The show and its newly right-leaning lead seem unrecognizable to both longtime fans and former writers, who are forced to sit and helplessly wonder where their champion of working-class women has gone. Well, the good people at Cracked have recently proposed a way to square the ethos of this new reboot with the classic sitcom we know and love. All it takes is a quick revisit of the previous series finale, some minor mental gymnastics, and—bear with us—an acceptance of alternate realities.

As fans will remember, Roseanne’s ninth (and, at that time, final) season was weird as hell. It started with the Conner family winning the lottery. Then, they did a bunch of out-of-character stuff for 22 episodes, including but not limited to stopping a terrorist hijacking and modeling for Playboy. Finally, it was revealed that everything that season—as well as everything from the previous seasons—was just a story Roseanne Conner was writing to help deal with the death of her husband Dan. Just like the contemporaneous ABC family sitcom Dinosaurs, the series ended on a weird fucking bummer, with Roseanne sitting alone in her now-empty house.


When it came to dealing with these plot inconsistencies in the reboot, Cracked notes that the new writers largely ignored them. Nobody won the lottery, the children are with their correct significant others, and Dan is very much still alive. They briefly address the “story within a story” idea in a scene where Dan finds a copy of Roseanne’s manuscript in the garage. She quickly tosses it off as a misguided venture, admitting she shouldn’t have “killed off the most interesting character”—meaning, of course, Dan.

Only, in the original book—i.e. the show’s ninth season—Dan was alive. That was supposedly the whole point of Roseanne writing it. So, this must mean the reality that’s revealed in the series finale, in which Dan had a heart attack, is also a story. Meaning the Roseanne from the reboot is a woman who wrote a book about a sad, widowed version of herself who writes a book about a happy, more-left-leaning version of herself. Any inconsistencies or differences of character in the new iteration of the show can be dismissed, because, if you think about, it’s not even the same person. We’re through the looking glass with this one.

If you’re still struggling to accept that a thing you loved in childhood is forever tainted, you can read Cracked’s whole theory here.

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About the author

Dan Neilan

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Have Fun — Will Travel.