Season 1, Episode 1 – “Life and Stuff”
Original air date, October 18, 1988
In 1988 I was a junior in high school. I played sports year-round and the fall was basketball season. The day Roseanne aired its pilot episode I was a battling Huntington High School on the hardwood. The mighty Milton Greyhounds were victorious, 67-45, and I scored 19 points.
I have no recollection of that game but I’m fairly certain I did not watch TV that night.
My viewing of Roseanne will focus on the five senses – sight, sound, touch, taste and smell – hoping to discover a better understanding of my perception of the show.
The dominant sense in this episode was touch. In the opening credits Dan kisses Roseanne, which is what prompts her “signature” laugh – even though it wasn’t the signature laugh in the first show. With young children, it’s no surprise that there is wrestling and push fighting – one hit from Darlene causes her and DJ to a wrestling fight.
I was a little bit surprised how much touch occurred but, thinking about a family, I suppose it shouldn’t have been an eye-opener. Becky hugs her mom and gives her a little nudge; Roseanne gives Dan a little shove after a wife joke he makes; Roseanne grabs Darlene around her mouth when asking why she is barking like a dog in class and then nudges her for an answer. It’s all “normal” family stuff, even when Jackie pulls Roseanne’s hair and punches her after a joke about the nut barn.
When Darlene cuts her finger with scissors and her mom and dad fix her up, holding her arm in the air and holding her hand that isn’t cut, Darlene states she “didn’t even feel it” when all the bandage work is complete. That success leads to Dan and Roseanne shaking hands.
Roseanne shook hands with Darlene’s teacher and stared at the desk when determining where to sit (sight). The clinical approach of touch with the teacher made it clear she was not a member of the family dynamic.
Taste was also prominent. The opening credits showed Darlene eating and sticking her tongue out (with food) and in the opening scene DJ asks for pie for breakfast. Becky comes in and takes a handful of cereal straight from the box and Dan eats toast with his coffee. Becky is searching the pantry for canned food to donate for a food drive for poor people.
While Dan is eating his toast a joke about toast crumbs on the butter occurs (sight) and Roseanne licks her buttered finger to prove the crumbs do not make a difference. Dan claims it is no different than jelly in the peanut butter jar, a pet peeve of Roseanne’s.
After breakfast, Darlene drinks Soda cola from a can and Dan willingly drinks warm beer.
At work, Crystal shares food at the break table and Roseanne uses a donut to explain men. The donut explanation comes with a joke that triggers a “clap track” – which I noted as sound. Roseanne says a ‘good man don’t just happen, they have to be created by us women’ and the fake clapping that occurred was impossible to miss. It appeared later in the episode when Roseanne was explaining to Darlene’s teacher that the whole family barks.
The other sounds were also typical family noises; the phone blaringly rings, the bus horn toots when it arrives for the children; the sound of a cartoon character running can be heard in the kitchen because the tv in the other room is so loud, prompting Roseanne to yell to turn it down.
• I don’t think I laughed during this episode.
• I watched the introduction at least three times. It was 48 seconds long, which I thought was drawn out, but it could have just been that the intro music was super slow. I noticed that DJ isn’t the DJ I knew and was immediately surfing the internet to find out who Sal Barone was/is (he really didn’t do TV again until recently).
• It is mentioned twice that Roseanne and Dan have been married 15 years
• The opening laugh is more of a squeal than a howl and I’m pretty sure I’d never heard it
• Dan is sweating visibly during the episode
• There was a person smoking at work, at the table where everyone was eating, inside
• Jackie attended a seminar that sounded an awful lot like “The Secret”