Even by the debased standards of the landmark sitcom’s ninth and final season, the series-ender was off-the-rails loopy. For nine years, Roseanne had been one of the few shows in TV history that, behind the wisecracks, tried to show the truth about how hard life can be in blue-collar America. But then, the Conners won the lottery, and the show turned into a Bizarro-world parody of Dynasty, with the crass, nouveau-riche Conners hobnobbing with royalty and indulging every gaudy whim.
Still, after a season of seeing the Conners transformed from lovable strivers into insufferable boors, the finale ripped out the rug from under viewers and, in the show’s final minutes, told us it had all been a dream, the imaginings of Roseanne herself as she embarked on a literary career. The family hadn’t struck it rich, it was sister Jackie (not mom Bev) who was gay, and, oh yeah, stalwart husband Dan had been dead of a heart attack for lo, these many months.
Killing off John Goodman’s loyal teddy bear of a spouse was adding injury to insult. Some critics saw in the finale an allegory for Roseanne’s show business career; by becoming rich and famous, she’d turned into an unbearable diva who’d forgotten the little people — not just the ones she’d created, but the ones who watched every week to see a woman know knew what their own lives were really like.
Next Seinfeld (1998)