Next year sees the return of Roseanne, back to it’s ABC home for a new run of 8 episodes set to debut during mid-season. It’s a great time for the shows return seeing as it’s 20 years ago since the show left our screens and 30 years since it’s debut. So we thought we’d cover what we know about the revival so far, what the cast have been up to, who’s returning, what storylines will be covered (or ignored as reported) and ensure you’re up to speed before next years return.
Roseanne debuted on ABC on October 13 1988 and set the bar for blue collar TV making it’s cast household names. The first season looked a little different to the Roseanne most of us remember. For starters, the first season didn’t have as much focus on the whole Connor family as it did from season 2 onward, but more on the adults of the family and their workplace, which was a local factory (Wellman Plastics) and included a lot more airtime for Crystal and Booker, friends and workmates of Roseanne and Jackies. Booker, not many remember, was played by a young George Clooney and he, along with Laurie Metcalf provided a lot of sexual tension between himself and Jackie. He left after one season, but Crystal, a long time friend of Roseanne and Jackie’s stuck around in a starring or later recurring role, later marrying Dan’s father Ed.
Roseanne was groundbreaking in a lot of it’s storylines, many of which Roseanne herself pushed hard for, until the show provided her the stardom she rightly deserved (she made a ton of money for the network) and she was given a lot of free reign on the show and included plot-lines never seen on TV before, or for the first time, handled with care and realism. They included working class poverty, alcoholism, sex and sexuality, drug use, race relations, feminism, domestic abuse and obesity to name but a few. And the show always handled the mix of comedy and serious issues with a beautiful balance, I’ve never watched a show where I was crying one minute and literally seconds later screaming with laughter.
After the second season, the Connor family took center stage with Roseanne, her husband Dan, sister Jackie and Dan and Roseanne’s children; Becky, Darlene and DJ. In later seasons, brothers Mark and David were additional main players when they integrated with the family via their relationships with Becky and Darlene, as well as a number of other fantastic characters such as Roseanne and Jackie’s mother; Beverly, their boss Leon, Jackie’s on/off boyfriend and babydaddy Fred, and Nancy played to perfection by Sandra Bernhard. Roseanne was gifted when it came to characterization and casting and the additions of Johnny Galacki (Mark), Glenn Quinn (Mark), Estelle Parsons (Beverly), Martin Mull (Leon), Michael O’Keefe (Fred) and Sandra Bernhard (Nancy) were strokes of genius, with the entire cast having chemistry unlike anything I’d seen on a comedy before it.
Over eight seasons, the show resonated with it’s audience; people finally saw depictions of real people they could relate to, and characters they fell in love with. By it’s nineth season though the show took a more surreal turn when the Connor’s won the state lottery of $108 million and what followed was a bizarre, off the wall but still hilarious (in my opinion) ninth and final season. There are numerous rumors about why the show took this turn; some say Roseanne knew the show was coming to an end so she acted out all the TV fantasies she wanted before the shows end, some say due to the lower ratings Roseanne resorted to big stunts and guest stars to try and claw back viewers, while some others say she was disappointed her US remake of British comedy hit Absolutely Fabulous wasn’t picked up so basically turned the final season of Roseanne into a hybrid of both shows (including guest spots from Ab Fab stars Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley). Either way, despite the hilarity of the final season, it bared little reselbalance to it’s blue collar roots. Many though who didn’t like the final season forgave Roseanne when they saw the final few minutes of the final episode, in a bittersweet monologue a number of game changing twists were revealed when Roseanne told us:
“Everyone wonders where creative people get their inspiration. Actually, I’ve found it’s all around you. Take Leon for instance… Leon is not really as cool as I made him. He’s the only gay guy I know who belongs to the Elk’s Club… Then there’s Scott. He really is a probate lawyer I met about a year ago and introduced to Leon. I guess I didn’t get too creative there… A lot of kids have called my son a nerd but, as I told him, they called Steven Spielberg a nerd too. A lot of times nerds are really artists who just listen to the beat of a different drum… My mom came from a generation where women were supposed to be submissive about everything. I never bought into that, and I wish mom hadn’t either. I wish she had made different choices. So I think that’s why I made her gay. I wanted her to have some sense of herself as a woman… Oh yeah, and she’s nuts… My sister, in real life, unlike my mother, is gay. She always told me she was gay, but for some reason, I always pictured her with a man. She’s been my rock, and I would not have made it this far without her. I guess Nancy’s kind of my hero too… Cause she got out of a terrible marriage and found a great spiritual strength. I don’t know what happened to that husband of hers but in my book I sent him into outer space… When Becky brought David home a few years ago I thought, “This is wrong!” He was much more Darlene’s type… When Darlene met Mark, I thought he went better with Becky… I guess I was wrong. But I still think they’d be more compatible the other way around. So in my writing, I did what any good mother would do. I fixed it… I lost Dan last year when he had his heart attack. He’s still the first thing I think about when I wake up and the last thing I think about before I go to sleep. I miss him… Dan and I always felt that it was our responsibility as parents to improve the lives of our children by 50% over our own. And we did. We didn’t hit our children as we were hit, we didn’t demand their unquestioning silence, and we didn’t teach our daughters to sacrifice more than our sons. As a modern wife, I walked a tight rope between tradition and progress, and usually, I failed, by one outsider’s standards or another’s. But I figured out that neither winning nor losing count for women like they do for men. We women are the one’s who transform everything we touch. And nothing on earth is higher than that. My writing’s really what got me through the last year after Dan died. I mean at first I felt so betrayed as if he had left me for another women. When you’re a blue-collar woman and your husband dies it takes away your whole sense of security. So I began writing about having all the money in the world and I imagined myself going to spas and swanky New York parties just like the people on TV, where nobody has any real problems and everything’s solved within 30 minutes. I tried to imagine myself as Mary Richards, Jeannie, That Girl. But I was so angry I was more like a female Steven Segal wanting to fight the whole world. For a while I lost myself in food and a depression so deep that I couldn’t even get out of bed till I saw that my family needed me to pull through so that they could pull through. One day, I actually imagined being with another man. But then I felt so guilty I had to pretend it was for some altruistic reason. And then Darlene had the baby, and it almost died. I snapped out of the mourning immediately, and all of my life energy turned into choosing life. In choosing life, I realized that my dreams of being a writer wouldn’t just come true; I had to do the work. And as I wrote about my life, I relived it, and whatever I didn’t like, I rearranged. I made a commitment to finish my story even if I had to write in the basement in the middle of the night while everyone else was asleep. But the more I wrote, the more I understood myself and why I had made the choices I made, and that was the real jackpot. I learned that dreams don’t work without action; I learned that no one could stop me but me. I learned that love is stronger than hate. And most important, I learned that God does exist. He and/or She is right inside you, underneath the pain, the sorrow, and the shame. I think I’ll be a lot better now that this book is done.”
I still cry when I see the end of this episode, so many interpretations could be taken from it; many reflections of Roseanne’s real life were maybe heard, maybe an apology for the bizarre final season (which wasn’t needed in my opinion), some saw it was an F-You to her doubters, either way this monologue polarized viewers due to the rewriting of much of the shows history, but what it possibly told me was Roseanne (the show creator and star) not the character had been hurting and angry for whatever reasons, and the show was maybe her outlet to project these feelings. I’ve also thought maybe Roseanne (who was in the early stages of a seven year relationship) just thought she’d taken the show as far as she could, that her relationship meant her priorities and focus were on her personal life and she just though f*** it, I’m going to have some fun. And boy did she; Roseanne got to play dress up as some of her favorite TV and movie characters and get some great guest stars (Edward Asner, Jim Varney, Tammy Faye Baker, Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley, James Brolin, Debbie Reynolds, Hugh Hefner, Moon Unit & Ahmet Zappa, Tony Robbins, Jerry Springer, Milton Berle and Steven Segal”, and Roseanne being Roseanne, didn’t keep all the fun to herself, she selflessly shared some great plot-lines with her co-stars and allowed them to also have some immense fun.
So, the revival. What do we know?
Who’s Going to be in it?
So far confirmed cast members include Roseanne herself, John Goodman as Dan (more on that below), Laurie Metcalf as Jackie, Michael Fishman as DJ, Lecy Goranson as Becky and Sara Gilbert as Darlene. Glenn Quinn obviously won’t return as Mark due to Glenn’s untimely death in 2002. As for David, played by Johnny Galeki, his participation is still up in the air due to his prior commitments to The Big Bang Theory, but we’re still hopeful for at least a cameo. Also, a surprise addition to the cast is Sarah Chalke who played Becky on and off when Lecy left the show and also filled in during times when Lecy couldn’t. The show always handled this with it’s tongue firmly in it’s cheek, often throwing out little in-jokes to remind us that the show was aware of the flip-flopping they were doing with the actresses, but now we know Sarah will return to the revival in a different role!
Who’s Running the Show?
Of course the final say-so will come down to Roseanne, but she’ll share producing credits with Tom Werner and Bruce Helford, while Sara Gilbert will be executive producer on the show with Bruce Helford and Whitney Cummings running the day to day operations.
How many episodes?
So far the revival has been green-lit for 8 episodes. The show’s popularity will dictate any future episodes and renewal.
How will Roseanne handle the twists from the final episode of the original series?
Of course, we refer to the above mentioned final episode where it was revealed that Dan actually died following his heart attack in season 8, Jackie was in fact a lesbian, not Beverly as season nine told us, Darlene was actually in a relationship with Mark, while Becky was in a relationship with David, not the other way around as we were to believe throughout the shows run. John Goodmans return tells us it’s likely that the show will retcon the final episode twists because we doubt the show will go down the ghost route. Also, we’re not sure exactly how much of the final season will be included at all, including the lottery win and Roseanne and Jackie’s mother coming out as a lesbian. I think it’d a be a shame to completely retcon all of these twists, but I hope the show at least acknowledges what transpired in the final episode, even if it turns out to be some kind of dream. But however they handle the show going back to it’s roots, I’m sure Roseanne will handle it like a pro.
In the meantime, check out the teaser below..