"'Family moves on after a death' is a trusty sitcom premise (that’s the way they all became the Brady Bunch)," says James Poniewozik. "But to have the loss be someone the audience has known as long and as well as family is a challenge, and an opportunity." He adds of killing Roseanne Conner via an opioid overdose: "If anything, the decision was a compliment to the legacy of her creation, a show that at its best was about facing real problems — death, domestic abuse, unemployment — with tough love and acid humor. Besides, we already knew what really killed Roseanne Conner: Roseanne Barr’s racism. The meta-cause for the character’s absence couldn’t help but hang over the Conners premiere. And in a way, Roseanne’s ejection was a kind of refutation of the premise of the earlier Roseanne revival. The revival made the case, in part, that families could have deep, hurtful divisions over the election and the state of America but that, in the end, these were just politics. (This has also been a theme of the new, more conciliatory episodes of Last Man Standing on Fox.) That was nice to hear, but it wasn’t totally honest. It took the example of the real-life Barr to point out that the schisms in America right now aren’t just about politics, in the sense of marginal tax rates or health care policy. They’re also about decency and empathy and dehumanization."