Roseanne Barr Goes 'Nuts'
Who'd have thought that Roseanne Barr's next act would be as a foul-mouthed macadamia nut farmer in the Hawaiian hinterlands?
OK, the foul-mouthed part makes sense. But the rest is as improbable as Barr's rise from frustrated housewife to stand-up comic to sitcom superstar.
Barr, now 58, bares all, sometimes literally, in Lifetime's new reality TV series, Roseanne's Nuts. The triple meaning is deliberate. The show depicts Barr's new life on a 46-acre macadamia plantation, the fact that after all these years she's still as wacky and irritated (and irritating) as ever, and that she doesn't care what anyone thinks -- as long as they tune in.
Whether that makes for good TV is to be determined. Watching the first two half-hour episodes, there's no doubt that Barr is still as feisty (and angry) as ever.
Nuts is a raunchier version of Barr's eponymous family sitcom, which made her a household name in the 1980s and 1990s and landed her an Emmy before ending 14 years ago. You can still watch Roseanne reruns on cable's TV Land, which makes for an interesting juxtaposition of her former TV family with her real tribe on the new show. So far, that includes son Jake and Johnny Argent, the musician-boyfriend Barr met eight years ago after he entered an online writing competition she sponsored. Argent isn't as funny as actor John Goodman, Barr's fictional spouse on the old series. But the laid-back Argent serves as a perfect foil to Barr, who still gives herself all the best lines.
While the focus is on family, Nuts is definitely not family viewing. In the first episode, while Barr chats on the phone with a neighbor about the wild boar roaming her land, Lifetime blocks a crotch shot that's too revealing even for cable. Was the stunt a deliberate reference to Barr's infamous crotch grab after singing the national anthem at a 1990 Major League Baseball game? Barr being Barr, it probably was. Teasers for an upcoming episode feature her taking another stab at the song at a local softball game. "I'm a patriot of this country and I have the right to sing the Star Spangled Banner and I'm going to do a much better job than the last time," she says.
So far, "Nuts" has received a few scathing reviews, and a few good ones. A Washington Post review calls it "bizarre and ultimately dull." Slate dubbed it "loud, dull, and dumb." But the Los Angeles Times reviewer calls it "occasionally weird, occasionally hilarious....a window into the life of an eccentric performer and a wickedly fun send-up of the genre."
Some viewers seem taken with the show. "Nice to see women on TV who look like most of us look," one viewer writes in a comment on the show's website. "I'm so glad to see a reality show that is more reality than over-produced and poorly "scripted" brain bubblegum," another says. "I'm excited to see someone of Roseanne's comedic talent and down-right genius with a show that focuses on something other than sex, alcohol, drugs, material hang-ups, and abhorrent behavior."
No doubt Barr won't care what her critics say. As she says in an intro to the season opener: "I can't lie anymore. I can't act like I'm interested in somebody who's boring the (bleep) out of me, and I don't want to because I'm too (bleep)ing damn rich."
Tune in Wednesday nights at 9 p.m. and see for yourself.
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