What the World is Watching

Roseanne

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“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 great episodes than there were bad ones. I guess, what I’m really trying to say is, I wish there was more wrestling to this episode.

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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 older daughters, 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.

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Roseanne 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 Fred Willard). Having no one to go to the wrestling match with, Mark asks Jackie because why not.

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As 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.

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Mark channels his inner Andy Kaufman, booing and trash-talking the female challenger, the enormous Black Widow, played by Dorothy-Marie “Dot” Jones, who surprisingly didn’t play a lot female wrestlers in other TV shows. Her opponent is the Tri-State Federation Champion, Cincinnati Patti DeMarco, played by Spice Williams-Crosby. Unlike Dot Jones, Spice Williams played a lot of fictional female wrestlers throughout her acting career.

While Black Widow makes quick work of Cincinnati Patti, 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.

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Naturally, Jackie puts up less of a fight than Cincinnati Patti. Black Widow puts her in a full nelson, then spins her around via airplane spin. The go-to hold of every sitcom-based wrestler, ever. Before Jackie can even attempt to crawl out of there, Black Widow jumps on top of her, as does another wrestler who seems to be on Black Widow’s side, and, for whatever reason, so does Cincinnait Patti. The scene ends with all three wrestlers dogpiled on top of Jackie, as she screams out in pain.

Later on, at the Conner house, 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 they cue the remixed version of the Roseanne theme song by Blues Traveler as the credits roll.

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Watching 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 with the current roster of WWE Divas. 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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2 thoughts on “Roseanne”

  1. Pingback: Step by Step

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