Spoiler alert! The following contains spoilers from Tuesday's Roseanne episode, "Netflix and Pill."
Roseanne got political again on Tuesday night, but not exactly how you'd expect.
There was no mention of President Trump or Hillary Clinton in the episode. There was no posturing, no political buzzwords or Islamophobic actions. There was just Roseanne (Roseanne Barr), Dan (John Goodman) and their pain, both physical and emotional.
Eight episodes into its revived 10th season, Roseanne decided to take on the opioid crisis by giving Roseanne and Dan their own crisis, one that's been building since we saw them swapping pills in the first episode of the season.
The episode finds Roseanne and Dan celebrating their 45th wedding anniversary in classic style. The couple first attempts to book a stay at a fancy hotel using the points on their credit card, but since they don't want to put a card down for incidentals, they end up spending their anniversary at home, in their pajamas, with a bottle of cheap champagne.
It's all drunken fun until it becomes clear that Roseanne is a little more than drunk. When Dan asks what's wrong, she reveals that she probably shouldn't have mixed the alcohol with her Vicodin.
The only problem? Earlier in the episode, Roseanne told Dan that someone stole some of her Vicodin, and asked him to fraudulently obtain more for her by saying he needed them himself.
So yes, Roseanne, like so many Americans right now, has become addicted to an opioid after being prescribed one for a medical issue (in this case, her knee).
She and Dan get into a big fight about her addiction, and at first, it seems like Roseanne is committed to getting clean. Dan is even committed to helping pay for surgery so she doesn't need the pain medication anymore. However, at the end of the episode, we learn Roseanne still has a secret stash of pills.
What's surprising is that unlike previous episodes that were more specifically conservative and Republican in their outlook, "Netflix and Pill" doesn't necessarily endorse President Trump's response to fighting the opioid crisis, an approach involving tougher law enforcement, an awareness campaign and increased access to proven treatment programs. In fact, the episode doesn't suggest a solution at all and leaves the door open for the show to address it in a later episode.
Stripped of such blatant political grandstanding and controversial jokes about race, the episode is much stronger than most of the rest this season (perhaps why ABC decided to send it out to critics before the show's debut weeks ago). It feels the closest to the way the old Roseanne used to tackle social issues like sexism and poverty (but not quite there, yet). Not with aggression, but with sympathy.
If only the rest of the season could use such a subtle touch.