Spoilers for the April 3 episode. Since the Roseanne reboot premiered last week, the show — and its lead — have been stirring up major backlash. And if you’re still feeling on the fence about watching the new episodes, there’s a certain element of the show that could make it more watchable for you. In Tuesday’s episode, it becomes very clear that Darlene could be the saving grace of Roseanne, and whether or not you identified with her as a teenager (and so many women did), there’s a good chance that she might be the character you feel most closely represents you as an adult.
So far, many reviews of Roseanne have touted the show’s ability to show a side of Trump supporters that isn’t typically portrayed in the media, but that’s not sitting well with all viewers, even those who loved the show during its original run in the ‘90s. Between Roseanne’s controversial tweets and the character herself being all about MAGA, a lot of people have questioned whether even just watching the show is an indirect endorsement of the racist and sexist behaviors of which Trump and some supporters have been accused.
But in Tuesday’s episode, there's less focus on Dan and Roseanne and more focus on Darlene and the kind of adult and parent she’s become. When her daughter, Harris, starts acting out at home, her grandmother puts most of the blame on Darlene for going too easy on her. And seeing the two women disagree about parenting really puts into perspective that Roseanne the character represents a lot of outdated ideals.
Darlene is struggling when the audience catches up with her. As a single parent who had to move back in with her family, it’s obviously hard for Darlene to avoid giving into Harris, who’s just as miserable having to leave her friends and school in Chicago. But then, when she starts talking back to Roseanne, her grandma’s anger makes it impossible for Darlene to just let things slide anymore — especially when she finds out that Harris is stealing clothing to sell on her "vintage" Etsy store.
Instead of taking her mom’s parenting advice, Darlene instead sits down with Harris to get to the root of the problem, finding out that she’s trying to save up money by selling clothes so she can move back to Chicago and be reunited with her friends. Darlene firmly but lovingly explained to her that they’re a family, so she’s staying put. Then she hits her with the consequence of having to shut down her Etsy shop. It’s definitely not what her mom would have done — or did do, since she shoved Harris’ head in the sink to punish her for leaving her laundry in the washer and dryer — but it doesn’t have to be.
Roseanne grapples a lot with getting older in this episode. Between using a stair chair to get around the house more easily after injuring her leg and not being able to communicate with Harris, it’s pretty clear that she’s feeling out of touch with current times… and her political beliefs fall right in line with that. In the premiere episode last week, she and Dan really discussed whether or not Darlene's son would be OK with being teased for dressing and living in a way that defies gender stereotypes; and now, it seems like Roseanne is also having issues accepting a more modern method of parenting that includes reasoning with your kid instead of immediately laying down the law.
But to Darlene’s credit, she’s doing things her way — and ironically enough, through that, she’s also bringing back the spirit of the original show. Her conversation with Harris is exactly the kind of warm, fuzzy, real family moment that Roseanne brought to the table back when it was at its best. And maybe the most important takeaway from this episode is actually that Darlene probably doesn’t fall in line with her mom’s political views. And that conflict is not only realistic, but could also mean there's a really interesting season ahead.
Whatever the rest of the season holds, Darlene will definitely be one of the most fun characters to watch. You don’t have to agree with Roseanne herself to enjoy the show. As long as you can still relate to characters like Darlene or Jackie, you may not have to cut the Roseanne revival off your viewing list completely.