Although this season has some excellent episodes, and overall is a five star season, we begin to see the start of some of the trends that eventually becomes the downfall of the series.
"A Stash From the Past" is one of the best episodes of the season. The scene with Jackie, Roseanne, and Dan all in the bathroom together is worth the price of admission alone. Also, the Halloween episode from this season is one of the better ones, with Darlene and David pretending to be broken up and seeing other people. Roseanne finally gets bested by a Halloween prank when she walks in on what appears to be Darlene in the aftermath of having brutally murdered David's new beau. "Homeward Bound" is also excellent with D.J. having taken up a new hobby - one that has him tying up the bathroom for excessive periods of time. Dan has a man-to-man chat with D.J. to let him know that what he is going through is typical for a boy his age, when D.J. decides to launch a volley of questions at Dan about his new hobby. A very uncomfortable Dan informs D.J. that although this is something that everyone does, it is also not something that people talk about.
"The Driver's Seat" finally goes into more needed detail about Roseanne's troubled childhood. D.J. steals the family car, and when he is found out, Roseanne reacts by spanking him in front of Dan and Jackie. Her remorse is great, and in probably the best scene between her and D.J. of the entire series, she tells him how sorry she is and how she was hit as a child. In the background, Leon has been adding to Roseanne's stress by trumping her in decision making over at the diner. Leon wound up a partner in the diner earlier in the season in "The Mommy's Curse" when Bev sold her shares to Leon to get back at Roseanne for telling her how her opinions really weren't appreciated at the diner.
On a similar theme, we learn more about Dan's childhood. In fact, Dan learns more about Dan's childhood in "Lies My Father Told Me". Up to now, we had been led to believe that Dan's father, played by the wonderful Ned Beatty, was a somewhat selfish guy, a bit of a buffoon, and a man who enjoyed his life of traveling salesman to the point that he didn't care too much about the impact it had on his family. In this episode, Dan's mother goes to a mental hospital, and Dan blames this all on his father, gets drunk, and goes over to his father and Crystal's home slinging accusations, but Dan's father is not home. Roseanne retrieves Dan, and when he sobers up she tells him the truth about his mother, how she had mental problems even before she married Dan's father. Dan breaks down crying, having an impossible time of reconciling a lifetime of opinion with the actual truth - that his Dad took Dan's disdain all of these years so Dan would have no bad feelings toward his mother. Dan goes back to his father's house to patch things up, and fixing a toaster together and watching a football game, you get the feeling that Dan may be seeing his dad through different eyes for the first time and maybe this is the beginning of them mending fences. It was a truly great episode.
One of the better long arcs of the season involves Darlene hiding the fact that David is with her in Chicago, rather than in Michigan with his mother. Although it isn't stressed, I think one of the sadder scenes involving David and Darlene is in "Thanksgiving 93" where the Conner holiday turns out to be a disaster. David and Darlene are in Darlene's spartan college apartment dining on macaroni and cheese when David asks Darlene if she misses being home for Thanksgiving, and she says "not really" in a very deadpan way. This brings reality to the proverb "Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a stalled ox and hatred therewith", given the huge fight that is taking place back at the Conner home.
Now for the parts of the season that are not so great. It seems that this is the beginning of a trend in "Roseanne" where men tend to be disposable. For one, Jackie becomes pregnant via a one-night stand with one of Dan's coworkers - "Fred". Throughout the next two seasons in which Fred appears, the show doesn't bother to give him a background of any kind such as a family or even a last name. He seems to exist simply to give Jackie a child, to make that child legitimate via a brief-as-possible marriage, and then exit Jackie's life forever at the end of season seven because Jackie says so. Also, in seasons three and four, Mark Healey, now Becky's husband, was quite the rebel with distinct ideas about everything, and frequent clashes between himself and Roseanne. When Mark and Becky return home this season, Mark has been neutered for all intents and purposes. When Roseanne discovers all is not well in their marriage, Roseanne's first instinct is to get Becky to eject Mark, although she later retreats from that position. When in previous seasons he was pictured as a pretty able mechanic, this season Mark isn't even able to make passing grades in trade school, and can only get a job when Dan gives him one at the city garage.
There is also the entry of ideas and themes in the Conner household that working-class people simply just don't do on a large scale. For instance, it is ludicrous to think that with two grown children- one of which is in college- and the third and youngest child in adolescence that two people who have had to work so hard just to keep their heads above water all their adult lives would entertain having a fourth child. At this stage of life - their early forties - the Conners would likely cheer the fact that their aging bones do not have to work quite so hard just to put food on the table and want to relax a bit. Their decision for a midlife-child is more typical of the 40-something occupants of the upper west side of Manhattan than small-town Illinois.
In summary, season six is a very good season when grouped with the previous five. When grouped with the last three, season six is just the beginning of the end. In fact, I think that "Roseanne" would be better remembered if it had ended with this season and Jackie's wedding to Fred. The problems that begin to creep up in the show in this season would not seem so great if they hadn't had three more seasons to grow to fruition and ultimately into full blown disaster.