What the World is Watching

Roseanne

RoseanneLogo“Roseanne-Feld”
Season 9, Episode 20
3/4/1997

At first, I didn’t get the title to this episode and wondered if it had to do with the wrestling storyline. It didn’t. Having watched it, I realized this episode was pretty much about nothing and then it hit me. This was basically a throwaway episode and apparently a dig at Seinfeld. Only problem is that as good as Roseanne was, their later seasons sucked and even with Seinfeld being a show about “nothing” there were way more good episodes than there were bad ones. I guess, I just wish there was more wrestling to this episode.

Much like Married with Children, Roseanne was a sitcom that revolved around a working class (read: white trash) family from Illinois. Unlike Married with Children, the characters on Roseanne were three dimensional, and the show often balanced the humor with poignant personal experiences that allowed for the characters to grow. This episode had none of that. It also didn’t have the best character on the show, Dan Conner, played by John Goodman. Nor did it have most of the Conner family, like Darlene, or Becky. Hell, Roseanne only made an appearance at the beginning and at the end of the show. There was a lot of D.J. Conner though.

IMG_1246Roseanne is busy tending to Darlene after she’s had her baby, leaving room for her sister Jackie to do absolutely nothing. Becky #2’s husband Mark has tickets to a wrestling match and invites D.J. to go but little D.J., all grown up now, has a hot date to go watch Return of the Jedi. There’s another storyline about Roseanne’s fresh-out-of-the-closet lesbian mother, Beverly, double dating with Roseanne’s gay business partner, Leon, and their significant others (one of which includes the hilarious Fred Willard). Having no one to go to the wrestling match with, Mark asks Jackie because why not.

IMG_1248As they take their seats to take in the action, Mark mentions to Jackie that he’s entered their names into a drawing in which the winner gets to get in the ring with the wrestlers. Using the tired trope of every sitcom episode that involves professional wrestling, where one of the show’s characters always find themselves in the ring competing and getting their ass handed to them. Which is a way better trope than the one of having the show’s main character actually beating a seasoned professional wrestler. Despite pro wrestling having stopped letting regular folk step into the ring at carnivals to try and last with their champion back in the 1890’s, sitcoms from the 1960’s and on still felt like this was a thing that was still happening.

IMG_1245Mark channels his inner Andy Kaufman, booing and trash-talking the female challenger, the enormous Black Widow, as she readies herself for the Tri-State Federation Champion, Cincinnati Patti DeMarco. While Black Widow makes quick work of Cincinnati, Mark continues to berate her with such hurtful words like, “Hey, I can smell your breath from here!” Suddenly, the announcer comes in over the speakers and announces Mark’s name. But before he can get too excited he realizes he’s being called out because there’s a telephone call waiting for him. Proving, yet again, why cellphones are the best invention ever. While Mark cleverly instructs D.J. on where to find a condom in his parents’ bedroom, Jackie hears her name called and hams it up for the screen as she expresses total bewilderment.

IMG_1254Naturally, Jackie gets her ass handed to her by the Black Widow via airplane spin. The go-to hold of almost every sitcom-based wrestler, ever. Then we pick up at the Conner house, where Jackie, sporting a shiner, and serving Black Widow a cup of coffee, asks the ultimate question about wrestling being fake. Even though she has a fucking black eye courtesy of the Black Widow! Of course, Black Widow mentions that it is fake, “for guys like Rowdy Roddy Piper.” But when women do it, it’s for real. Black Widow feels bad for Mark not getting his chance to wrestle her and they decide to arm wrestle. She lets him win, and when Roseanne shows up for the second time in this episode, she just posts up opposite the Black Widow and arm wrestles her as well. Not once questioning why the hell this giant woman in spandex is in her kitchen. Then we cue the remixed version of the Roseanne theme song by Blues Traveler as the credits roll.

IMG_1257Watching these old wrestling-themed sitcom episodes that involve women wrestlers makes me think that they could never pull these off in this day and age. I don’t see how either one of the Bella twins, or AJ Lee, could strike fear in the heart of Annie from Community, or Donna from Parks and Recreation. It definitely doesn’t help that tiny Maria Menounos won a tag-team match at WrestleMania 28 by pinning one of the last imposing-looking female wrestlers, Beth Phoenix.

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