I have a handful of sitcoms I love to watch over and over. Sex and the City is one, of course, and I Dream of Jeannie, The Dick van Dyke Show, I Love Lucy, and, believe it or not, Roseanne.
The reason Roseanne really appeals to me (other than the fact that I totally love John Goodman and kind of want him to adopt me, and I really don't think my dad would begrudge me that) is that it showed a real family. With the advent of Roseanne, the days of the perfect family ended. And thank God. As much as I may enjoy watching an episode of Growing Pains or The Brady Bunch from time to time, I would much rather spend my days with the Conners.
The honesty, always caustic but with a true, funny heart underneath is what makes the show. The cast rarely takes itself too seriously, which is refreshing. Laurie Metcalf is glorious as Roseanne's neurotic younger sister, Michael Fishman always nails youngest child DJ's slight stupidity but huge spirit, and Estelle Parsons occasional appearances as Roseanne's mother are always delightfully painful (in the best way possible). Of course, we can't forget Roseanne herself, whose snappy comebacks and withering glares are really what make the show.
Another great thing about Roseanne is that it even engages in the occasional metafictional high-jinks, such as the episode--"Shower the People You Love with Stuff"--in which Lecy Goranson returns to the fold after a three-year absence (Sarah Chalke of Scrubs covered the role of Becky while Goranson was away); when she walks into the room, Roseanne turns around and asks, "Where in the hell have you been?" At the end of the episode, the audience is treated to the fake theme song to a show ostensibly titled Nearly Identical Beckys. Several other mutations of this joke appeared throughout the series as Goranson and Chalke switched off.
In another truly fantastic meta moment, the episode "Sherwood Schwartz--A Loving Tribute" featured the cast as characters from Gilligan's Island; then, while the end credits rolled, actors from Gilligan's Island took over the roles of the cast members who had portrayed them, the highlight of which was Bob Denver as Jackie. (See here for a better explanation.)
Of course, I don't agree with the way the series ended--Roseanne Conner was the author of everything? That's almost as bad as an entire series turning out to be the dream of an autistic child. But even that cannot take away from the brilliance of the show. If you're not familiar, try catching reruns on TV Land. I think you'll enjoy it.
Buy season 1 of Roseanne through Best Buy for $12.99.