Roseanne S1E7 Review: “The Memory Game”

The Conner family photo

This episode begins with a classic bit of Roseanne-parenting, as opposed to sitcom-parenting.  When Becky asks Roseanne if she’s ugly, instead of comforting her, reassuring her, or the classic, “Why would you ever think that, sweetheart?” that most sitcom moms would have delivered (think The Brady Bunch, when Marcia gets braces), Roseanne replies, “Of course you are, honey, you look just like your daddy.”  That’s the sort of levity and fun that makes me think, for all her faults, Roseanne was a great mom, and it would have been fun to grow up in her household.

Of course, she quickly clarifies that Becky is in fact gorgeous, because she looks just like Roseanne. (Except, not really, she frankly looks adopted.)

This episode revolves around a family picture that Dan wants to take to send in to the yearbook committee, led by Roseanne’s least favorite high school classmate, Phyllis Zimmer.  Roseanne doesn’t see the point– why not send in the one from Yellowstone, where they’re all mooning Old Faithful?

Then there’s a scene at Wellman which sort of seems like it’s building up to something, then goes nowhere.  There are no paper towels in the women’s bathroom; there are never any paper towels for the women, but there are always some in the men’s room. Clearly, Crystal surmises, this is a plot by management to get them caught up in the little things so they don’t notice the big injustices.  Roseanne, being Roseanne, marches right into the men’s room to get some paper towels.  Because Roseanne is awesome and everyone loves her, she’s met with a chorus of “HI ROSEANNE!” from the men inside.  Upon her exit, Booker asks, “What’d I tell you about going in there?”


The women jokingly threaten to go on strike over the towels, so Booker tells Pete to get them some new ones.  This whole sequence seems like it’s going to build to something, or at least that there will be another scene from this plot later on, but that’s the whole of it.

Even so, it’s fun to watch because there are moments when the actors are genuinely laughing at Roseanne’s antics.  It’s pretty refreshing to see something like that.  There’s even an instance where Natalie West hasn’t managed to stop chuckling yet by the time someone else starts their line.  Can’t you just imagine how much fun it would be to work on a set with (the real) Roseanne?

Back at the house, everyone’s getting ready for the family picture.  Becky’s got another classic on:


But then, so do Roseanne…


And Jackie.


…Jackie wins.  What even is that shirt.

There’s actually a continuity problem here as well.  Apparently they needed to do some retakes of one of Darlene’s lines, and as a result, in one frame Becky starts to storm off, and in the next, she’s completely disappeared, much too quickly to have made it to the stairs.

Becky disappears

As the family prepares for the photo, they reminisce about Dan and Roseanne’s wedding and their high school romance, giving us a little more history on the couple.  It turns out that on the advice of some teen magazine, Roseanne broke up with Dan for a week in high school.  Jackie inadvertently reveals that during that week, Dan took the dreaded Phyllis Zimmer out.

Roseanne is, of course, heartbroken that Dan never told her, particularly when she learns that he had sex with Phyllis that night.  This is major, because I’m pretty sure until this point she thought that they had only ever done it with each other.  It doesn’t particularly matter that it was Phyllis– that’s just salt in the wound, really– but Roseanne thought Dan was the one person in the world she could trust, and now that’s been taken away, and she can’t help but wonder what else she doesn’t know about him.

The gut-wrenching moment when Roseanne learns of Dan's betrayal.

The gut-wrenching moment when Roseanne learns of Dan’s betrayal.

This indiscretion clearly sticks with Roseanne, because when the real Dan dies, the faux/alt-universe Dan cheats on her with his mother’s nurse.  She copes with her anger over his death (in a way, his death is a betrayal because he left her alone) by writing it as anger over his betrayal with another woman, something she’s had to cope with before.

Dan assures her that Phyllis meant nothing– he was drunk, and heartbroken over Roseanne– and that the big fuss over the picture was not for Phyllis, but because he’s so proud of the two of them for sticking it out and being married 15 years, particularly after everyone told them they were married too young.

It’s worth noting that their family setup is a little different than other sitcom couples that got married that young.  For some reason, there are several different sitcoms where the central couple got pregnant in high school and, for that reason, got married (Grounded for Life being one example– frankly, I think this device is often used primarily to have an excuse for the parents to be younger, more attractive actors), and often it seems like that’s the only reason they stayed together.  This show, however, flips the order, with Dan and Roseanne getting married right out of high school because they’re perfect for each other and love each other, and then getting pregnant with Becky.  So here, when Dan remarks how special it is that they’re still together after all this time, it’s not because they stuck it out in a marriage fate forced them into, but because they love each other, chose to be together, and chose to work through the hard times to build a loving family and home.


Loose Meat:

– I lied last time, Jackie’s hair is curly again.  Hard hitting news, I tell ya.

– And now, all the family pictures the Conners took:

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