This is one of those episodes where your only real takeaway at the end is gee, that was nice. It was nice to see Dan and Roseanne being romantic and goofy. It was nice to see Becky get attention and affection from her mother and not be a brat. It was nice to see DJ being sweet to Roseanne.
Darlene’s conflict for the week is that she has a paper route, but is completely terrible at it. What I don’t get is that the Lanford Bugle apparently gets delivered in the afternoon/evenings– when Darlene rushes in at the top of the episode, Roseanne tells her that her dinner is in the oven. Later she starts on her route after getting home from school, and remarks to her boss that it gets dark at 5pm. I’ve… never heard of a paper that isn’t delivered first thing in the morning… is that really a thing?
Since Darlene is terrible at throwing newspapers at houses, I guess, she constantly gets complaints and soon is fired.
Roseanne points out to her, however, that she had essentially quit the job long before she was fired. Darlene says she figured it would be an easy way to make money, but heck, she’s 11 years old, why not live off her allowance for a few more years? With that, Darlene learns nothing from this endeavor, and the audience gets to see (again) that Darlene doesn’t work hard or try on anything except sports (until she suddenly doesn’t, when real-Roseanne starts to write the part to match Sara Gilbert’s personality). No wonder Becky gets bitter.
The episode gets a little dated (I mean, more than the usual amount brought on by the amazing fashion/hair/technology/what have you) when Darlene receives a long speech from her boss on the importance of the newspaper. “For 25 cents, we give them the world!” he says. By not delivering their paper, Darlene is upsetting the order of the universe! This was meant to be funny at the time in the sense that a man working at the Lanford Bugle shouldn’t be so self-important as to consider his daily periodical to be of such utmost necessity to the people, but it’s doubly funny now given the state of the newspaper industry and the cultural insignificance of the newspaper.
Becky, meanwhile, is actually very likable in this episode, and her interactions with Roseanne are very refreshing, especially after my analysis of her relationship with her parents last week. For a large part of the series it holds true. But in this episode, we get to see some redeeming qualities from Becky and some loving interaction with Roseanne.
Becky is supposed to dissect a frog for biology class, but feels it’s against her morals– however, she will get an F on the project if she refuses to do it, bringing down her stellar academic record. This, thankfully, gives Becky’s character a little more dimension than the perfect oldest child with fantastic grades that we’ve seen so far, and is a nice departure from bratty teenage girl, too. Roseanne, as all sitcom parents would do in this situation, tells Becky to stick to her guns if it means so much to her, even if she gets a C as a result.
By the way, Becky is wearing a bolero in this episode. A bolero.
What’s so nice about this episode is that Roseanne is actually engaging with Becky in a real way, which so rarely happens. She’s physical with her, hugging her and stroking her hair as she comforts her. She’s also respecting Becky as a person with moral judgments and valid feelings, which is rare for Becky and, well, a lot of teenage girls. Not that I blame anyone for that– we’re the worst at that age.
In the end, Becky refuses to do the dissection, and gets the bad grade. She’s bitter that the other kids hypocritically dissected their frogs after cheering for her protest, but Roseanne tells her she’s proud of her and even recounts the story to Dan later. It’s a rare moment where we get to see a healthy and real relationship between Becky and Roseanne, and as much as I hate Becky, it warmed my cold, shriveled heart.
As I was watching this episode, I started thinking about an episode of 8 Simple Rules that did this same basic plotline, and did some googling– this is actually a very common plot device for high school-aged characters in sitcoms! Lots more info on this at TV Tropes!
Amidst all the kids’ turmoil, Roseanne and Dan are harping over the fact that they never had a proper honeymoon. They agree to each pick a destination for them to take their belated honeymoon and see which is more romantic. Dan, big burly man’s man that he is, suggests a cabin in Wisconsin where they can hunt and camp and enjoy the wilderness. Roseanne picks… Florida. Granted, Sarasota which isn’t so bad, but… Florida. But then, this is a blue-collar family, so Florida is probably the most beachy-tropical place they can afford. (Don’t get me wrong, Florida is fine, but when is the last time you heard something positive come out of there?) Unable to agree, they decide to go on individual honeymoons.
Jackie saves the day, however, and surprises them by taking the kids away to Wizard World for the weekend so Roseanne and Dan can have a honeymoon at home. We of course are treated to the beginnings of their honeymoon and get to revel in the delight that is their relationship– laughter, and love, and giddiness, and completing each other.
– Slate wrote a piece on the ubiquitous granny-square afghan, a good deal of which focused on Roseanne– read about it here.
– John Goodman was really at his cutest around this time, you know?
– The next episode in the series is “Bridge Over Troubled Sonny,” which is of such epic ridiculousness that I don’t even mind its focus on Crystal. If you haven’t seen that episode in a while, re-watch it, because seriously Crystal what are you even doing with your life!