The 'domestic goddess' grows nuts in Hawaii, but is her unglamorous life right for today's viewers?
You have to admit, Roseanne Barr was made for reality TV. Back in the day, she and now ex-husband Tom Arnold were the king and queen of TMI. They talked about their sex life, their politics, their rotten childhoods and later their drug use and their battles with studio brass. Before there was reality TV, there was Roseanne Barr.
Thus, it makes perfect sense that we now have “Roseanne’s Nuts” (Lifetime, Wed. at 9 p.m.). Barr, tired of life in L.A., has moved to a Hawaiian macadamia nut farm to live the life of a farmer, if farmers were multimillionaires and could be squeamish about killing things, doing physical labor and didn’t need to make a profit. She lives on the farm with her boyfriend, Johnny, who has gleefully announced he’s fine with being the girl in his relationship with Barr. This seems to mean he’s fine with being cussed out 24/7. Other visitors include Barr's son Jake, her daughter Jenny, assorted family members and bewildered locals.
In a recent episode, Roseanne, still in some ways the sarcastic, gum-chewing “domestic goddess” of her stand-up days, wildly drives a Jeep-like contraption around her nut fields, cursing and cackling in equal measure. Being Roseanne means never having to say you’re sorry or stick to your position, and to that end she flip-flops with lightning speed. After trying to shoot at (or possibly hit) several pigs who are gobbling up her macadamia nuts, she decides to have the [many, many expletives retracted] pigs hunted down. Then, to the befuddlement of the locals who go through the trouble of releasing herding dogs and are just seconds away from choking a little critter out, she demands they stop what they’re doing. She may have to call her psychiatrist.
After having the pig stuck inside a cage and listening to her son-in-law threaten to kill and cook the pig against her wishes, she finally decides to, yes, release the pig, as it would be bad karma to kill it. I’d think it would be bad karma to shoot at one, too, but oh well. She was a lousy shot, anyway.
But Barr isn't exactly the epitome of Eastern calm. She freaks out, she picks fights, she sits on the sofa in her underwear (or what I have to hope is her underwear, as it was blurred out by the censors). She's just as obnoxious and funny as she was during the run of 'Roseanne.' But audiences have changed since then, and so has Barr.
One of Barr's prevailing themes on the new series is that she's decided that she's going to hell (seemingly because of her years in Hollywood), so she's now dedicating herself to good deeds to change her fate. In one episode, she buys a food truck with the goal of distributing her garden plot's abundance to the needy, then orders a local to fix up the truck, her family to pluck beets and oversees it all while swigging a drink. Amazingly, Barr's directives do result in poor people getting some food, but the lingering image of a post-Hollywood diva getting her way is what's most memorable.
There are charming moments on the show as well, which hums along at a relaxed Hawaiian rhythm while a trio of local musicians occasionally offers rhythmic commentary, like a mellow Greek chorus or the human version of those little mice in "Babe." Not much happens on the Big Island (Barr has to import Phyllis Diller and Sandra Bernhard from the mainland for a girl's night out), but that seems to suit Barr just fine. Whether viewers will be as amused is a another question altogether.