From exactly the first episode of the second season through the last episode of the fourth, and a herky-jerky way descending through the fifth, Roseanne was the best show on TV. It had found dramatic rhythm (the first season is sometimes more like an uneasy stretched-out stand-up bit), and also had great narrative momentum, amazing actors, an absorbing sense of place/purpose, story arcs of every length, and best of all, it surprised. It swerved. The writing was fantastic. It made you gasp sometimes at the unexpected. It didn't fit sitcom patterns for joke or dramatic pay-off, and was exhilarating.
It was also very much the sitcom that kept me company (this would have been 1989-1993, the period I'm talking about) during my post-college, George Bush I, post-1987 crash, recession-filled, doyouwantfrieswiththat years. The years I was fighting other recent college grads for telemarketing jobs, that the help wanted section became an arid, mocking joke, that the dream of the goose from a college degree came crashing to a stop.
The fact that Roseanne had so much to say about the recession, the hunt for jobs you didn't want anyway, the frightening limits of evil bosses and constant worry about the future was not an accident. It was really comforting, partly because it was so smart and one step ahead of my problems.
The point now is that, especially if you're lucky enough to catch reruns in the 2nd to 5th season cycles, the shows are delivering a world-weary and perspicacious punch due to our current financial crisis. They sparkle, can make you gasp at their twisty turns and satisfying fuck-you-ness. Most of all they comfort. They were always great, but now, one Clinton and another Bush later, I'm even gladder they're still around.