Over 20 years since it’s incredibly polarizing finale, Roseanne is back, all the cast are back, and the reboot has even got a second season on the way! However, as usual, this reboot has not come without its fair share of controversy, and Roseanne Barr is at the center of it all.
Roseanne’s At It Again
It has often been extremely difficult to tell the difference between Roseanne Barr and Roseanne Conner. While the latter is the beloved blue-collar wife/mother, the former is so much more…
Roseanne Barr vs. Roseanne Conner
It seems like Roseanne Barr and Roseanne Conner overlap a lot, in terms of what they have in common as people. Although they are both outspoken women who like to shake things up a lot, Roseanne Barr is arguably a much more controversial figure. When you put together her thoughts on transgender people, her conspiracies about the Democrats and dressing up as certain controversial historical figures (who we shall not name), it’s obvious that Barr wins when it comes to controversy.
Roseanne For President?
One thing is for sure, Roseanne Barr likes to do things a little differently. Someone who is all for change, the actress is a politically-charged individual, having campaigned for a Green Party presidential nomination a few years ago. However, Barr did something very unexpected when it was revealed that, not only did her on-screen character become a Donald Trump supporter, but so did she! She admitted to voting for the current President in order to “shake up the status quo.”
Getting Into Trouble
In 2014, Barr got into a considerable amount of trouble after tweeting the address and phone number of the parents of George Zimmerman, the man who was acquitted of second-degree murder. They even accused Barr of causing “a lynch mob to descend” on their house. Despite the Seminole County Circuit Court receiving a complaint and asking for over $15,000 for emotional distress, the case eventually went in Barr’s favor. She wasn’t punished and didn’t need to pay a dime.
The Star-Mangled Banner
One perfect example of Roseanne Barr’s consistent involvement in the realm of controversy can be traced way back to 1990. At a baseball game between the San Diego Padres and the Cincinnati Reds, the actress had the honor of singing the U.S. national anthem. However, the performance ended up upsetting many, including the President at the time, George H.W. Bush, who called it “disgraceful.” This is because Barr sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” off-key, before spitting and grabbing her groinal region, imitating the players.
One thing that separates Roseanne Barr’s life from her character’s life is one dark secret that she had to carry throughout her childhood. In 1991, she finally had the courage to confess at a church that she had been the victim of abuse from certain family members. “My mother abused me from the time I was an infant until I was 6 or 7 years old,” she said in an interview. “She did lots of lurid things. She hurt me psychologically and physically.” Moreover, she recounted how her father did untellable things that made life unbearable.
From Ex Man To Next Man
At the start of the show, Executive Producer Jeff Harris decided to give Roseanne and sister Jackie the maiden name Harris too. Then there was Arnie Thomas, the estranged husband of Nancy. Roseanne decided to use her actual ex-husband’s name, Tom Arnold, as inspiration. In fact, all of Roseanne Barr’s ex-husbands, Bill Pentland, Tom Arnold, and Ben Thomas actually ended up making guest appearances on the sitcom. Once again, the line between life and art was truly blurred.
Brave New World
A potential boycott of the show’s reboot was proposed by the fundamentalist One Million Moms organization. This is because one of Roseanne’s newly cast grandchildren, Mark, is “gender creative.” What makes the boycott even sadder is that the actor playing the character, Ames McNamara, is extremely talented. “It’s inspiring to see so much talent at such a young age,” Sara Gilbert said, who plays Mark’s mom. “Some people are born with abilities beyond their years. Ames is one of those people.”
One Million Moms believes that the producers of the new season have a transgender agenda. They even claim on their website that gender fluidity is a mental disorder. “The victims of this outrageous program are the young cast members, not to mention any child who views the show,” wrote director Monica Cole. “DNA proves a female is female and a male is male. There is no gray area here and no such thing as ‘gender fluid.’ Confusing young viewers and child cast members with gender dysphoria is destructive.”
What exactly is the end game for One Million Moms? According to their website, their main goal is to “stop the exploitation of children” that comes from media such as advertising as well as TV shows. When it comes to the reboot of Roseanne, it looks like the organization doubled down on Barr and the crew. The group launched a petition titled “I Will Not Watch” in September 2017, which accumulated a staggering 7,000 signatures. What did Roseanne have to say on the matter?
Despite there being a proposed boycott, Roseanne Barr didn’t give an official response to it. However, there have been many who have voiced their support for the inclusion of a gender fluid character. Sara Gilbert only had more positive things to say: “It felt like the right time to put this working-class family on TV. That’s a voice that’s not been spoken for enough in this country and we feel hopefully that we can be a uniting force in that way.”
What’s All The Fuss About?
This certainly isn’t the first time that Roseanne has raised eyebrows; it is simply part of what made it so successful in the first place. The show centers around the Conners, a working-class family who hail from Lanford, a fictional town based in Illinois. The show first aired in 1988 and was groundbreaking, seeing that its main character was the mother, Roseanne. Its fresh insights into the blue-collar American family was the secret recipe behind the show’s incredible success…
Pushing The Envelope
The truth is that the commercial success of Roseanne is abnormal, especially seeing that the show consistently pushed the envelope, asking some of the big questions surrounding contemporary American family life. Some serious topics that had hardly been touched upon in previous shows were at the forefront of some of Roseanne‘s storylines. These included depression (season four), domestic violence (season five) and even abortion (season seven). But it was the show’s accepting depiction of homosexuality that divided audiences the most…
The Kiss Of Death?
Homosexuality was a topic that, unlike other 80s and 90s shows, was touched upon in a big way. Because Roseanne Barr’s real-life siblings are gay, she was determined to include gay characters. At first, producer Matt Williams was against the idea, but eventually, the character Nancy was portrayed as a lesbian. Also, there was one episode in season six that shows Roseanne getting kissed by Nancy’s girlfriend in a bar. ABC threatened to pull the episode, but Roseanne ultimately got her way.
This wasn’t the first or the last time that Roseanne would get into the fights with the producers or the network. She seemed to be constantly battling about creative decisions that ABC considered to be too risqué. As a matter of fact, the creator of the show Matt Williams ended up quitting the show when tensions with Roseanne came to a head. She refused to say the line, “Well, you’re my equal in bed, but that’s it,” to husband Dan.
Goldmine For Awards
Despite being so popular, Roseanne was never nominated for an Emmy Award for Best Comedy Series. However, this didn’t stop stars of the show receiving many awards for their stellar performances. It should be no surprise that both Roseanne Barr and her on-screen sister, Jackie Harris, played by Laurie Metcalf, both received Emmys for their roles. Barr also received People’s Choice Awards and Peabody Awards. But that wasn’t all, John Goodman picked up Golden Globes for his role as Dan Conner, Roseanne’s husband.
Finale Was Final?
Despite all the ratings and awards that Roseanne has to its name, the show’s ending was unsatisfactory for many diehard fans. After 221 episodes, the series finale wrapped things up in May 1997, and in typical controversial Roseanne fashion. It turns out that the Conners did not actually win the lottery and Dan Conner had actually died from the heart attack he received at the end of season eight. This is because it is revealed that the entire story was actually fabricated by Roseanne.
Despite the controversial creative decisions made in the series finale, nothing can take away from the commercial powerhouse that is Roseanne Barr. Because of the characters she created and the story she helped bring to life, Barr created an absolute goldmine. The irony was that she was portraying a run-of-the-mill working-class mother. However, she was absolutely raking it in. In fact, in season nine alone, Barr made a staggering $650,000 per episode. But what was the key to her success?
Bing Bang Links
There are actually many links between Roseanne and other shows, both old and new. In fact, there have been numerous actors that have crossed over specifically from the 90s show to Chuck Lorre’s current hit sitcom The Big Bang Theory. Some of the notable examples include main cast member Laurie Metcalf. She played Roseanne’s neurotic younger sister Jackie and in turn, ended up playing Sheldon’s religious mother. Also, Johnny Galecki, who is most famous for playing Leonard Hofstadter, originally played David, Darlene’s boyfriend.
Not Such Average Joes
Between Roseanne Barr and John Goodman, they created a married couple dynamic that had never been seen before on TV. Barr had originally based the Conner family on the way her own family operated. She knew she had a winning formula, especially because she was giving American audiences a female voice they had never seen on TV before. And John Goodman as Dan Conner certainly made a fantastic contribution and, as a result, was listed as number 13 on TV Guide’s “50 Greatest TV Dads Of All Time.”
One of the most high profile cameos of the entire shows run is undoubtedly from the silver fox himself, George Clooney. The Ocean’s Eleven star appeared in season one as Roseanne’s boss at the factory she worked at. But that wasn’t all, unbeknownst to casual viewers, there was actually a photo on the set fridge of Clooney posing nude with a pair of Groucho Marks glasses covering his private parts. In fact, the photo was taken by Jon Goodman on a night out.
It’s In The Name
There are many interesting stories surrounding the name choices in Roseanne. For starters, the original name for the show was going to be Life and Stuff. However, Barr wasn’t satisfied and thought her name would be more fitting. Then there are certain details about character names worth noting. For example, Jim Varney’s character, who was known as Prince Carlos, had the full name Prince Carlos Phillip Jonathan Kent Arthur William Hobson Peppy Charmaine.
School’s Not Out
Sara Gilbert (who also ended up on The Big Bang Theory as Leslie Winkle) will be best remembered for playing Darlene Conner-Healy, Roseanne and Dan’s second child. She joined the show at a very young age and was already studying at Yale University. However, producers considered her role so important that they were determined to build the storylines and even the shooting schedules around her own. One thing was for sure, the crew behind Roseanne certainly valued education!
Respecting His Roots
Although the creator of the show Matt Williams was fired after the third season, there is no denying that without him, the show may have never got off the ground in the first place. Williams grew up in Evansville, Indiana, and as a result, the majority of the shots that were shown before and after the commercials were of the streets, buildings, and skyline of Evansville. Even though the show was set in Illinois, this didn’t seem to matter.
What many casual fans don’t realize is that Becky Conner was actually played by two different actresses. Oddly, it was Lecy Goranson who portrayed the character between season one and five, and also reprised the role for season eight. However, it was Scrubs favorite Sarah Chalke who took on the role for seasons six, seven and nine. Originally, Lecy Goranson wanted her hair short. Although producers hated the idea, Roseanne was defiant, took a pair of scissors and did the job herself.
From One Show To Another
Another show that Roseanne has an interesting link with is the comedy-drama Desperate Housewives. Alongside Laurie Metcalf’s Jackie there was her abusive boyfriend Fisher, who was played by Matt Roth. Nearly a decade after their last collaboration on the show, Metcalf and Roth locked horns again on Desperate Housewives, with the former playing Carolyn Bigsby and the latter playing Art Shepherd. But these, along with The Big Bang Theory, weren’t the only shows that Metcalf was attached to…
Life Imitating Art
Metcalf’s talents aren’t limited to just film and TV, she has also been a notable theater actress, specifically in Chicago. She has starred in numerous productions, including Educating Rita, The Other Place, and Misery. This was even referenced in an episode of Roseanne. In season two, Jackie mentions that the thing she loves the most about Chicago is the theater. It’s heartwarming references like these that show how cast members were able to enjoy themselves and not take things too seriously.
Yabba Dabba Doo!
Another reference to one of the cast members career endeavors outside the show can be found in the names of Becky’s pets. The producers named them Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm, which is definitely alluding to the time that the man behind Dan Conner, John Goodman, portrayed Fred Flinstone in The Flinstones movie, which came out in 1994. Without a shadow of a doubt, Goodman is the most successful member of the main cast, having starred in movies such as The Big Lebowski and Argo.
Children Of The Corn
One peculiar fact about Roseanne is that corn is either shown or mentioned in nearly every single episode of the series. The reason for this is that it was John Goodman’s character Dan Conner’s favorite food. Whether it was canned, cob or creamed, they always seemed to find their way into a scene or a piece of dialogue. Also, Roseanne would always have cobs of corn hanging from the walls of her kitchen. Corn was unavoidable on this show.
Although we already mentioned the fact that Sarah Chalke and Lecy Goranson both played the role of Becky in alternate seasons, there have been numerous other cast changes throughout the show’s run. For example, Sal Barone, who originally played D.J. in the pilot, was eventually replaced by Michael Fishman. An important story change came when deciding who would be Roseanne’s main partner in crime. Originally, it was supposed to be Natalie West’s Crystal. But in the end, producers went with Laurie Metcalf’s Jackie instead.
Too Big To Quit
When the supposed final season came around, there were intense rumors that John Goodman was fed up with his role on the show and wanted to quit. The rumor surfaced apparently after Goodman heard that Roseanne Barr was also threatening to quit the show. Although Goodman wasn’t in a dozen of season nine’s episodes, Barr ended up being in every single episode, which makes sense seeing that the show was actually named after her.
The reality is that ever since the show came to an end, there have been numerous attempts to bring it back to life. Barr actually tried to launch a spin-off show. However, the deal fell through and instead, she ended up on a Comedy Central Roast. Despite this, Barr has disclosed what she imagined would have happened to the Conners had the show carried on. She believes that Darlene would have come out and that Dan would have returned, faking his own death.
Roseanne, Dan, Becky, Darlene and DJ became household names and from season one were one of the most watched families on TV, attracting 23.8 million viewers. It didn’t take long before it trounced The Cosby Show in the Nielsen Ratings. In fact, the series finale alone was seen by an incredible 16 million viewers. The fact remains that Roseanne was one of the most watched American shows for five of the nine seasons and no awards omission will ever change that.
Barr wouldn’t have to theorize any longer as the show finally struck a deal to create an eight-episode reboot. Every main cast member returned and amazingly, both Sarah Chalke and Lecy Goranson both came back. In order to solve the creative problem, they played different characters! However, there is no denying that the new season has sparked much controversy, especially after the casting addition of Ames McNamara as a gender-fluid child caused a potential boycott of the show…
As well as all the old faces coming back, there was a long list of new additions to the family. One of the most notable additions to the cast has to be Emma Kenney, who will be best remembered for her role in Shameless. She was cast as Harris, the 14-year-old of David and Darlene. Ironically, Harris is Roseanne’s maiden name. Kenney wasn’t the only new addition. Jayden Rey portrays Mary Conner, the daughter of DJ. While Doc himself, Christopher Lloyd, guest starred.
One of the most controversial aspects of the original series was the death of the show’s patriarch, Dan, portrayed by Dan. However, the actor addressed the rumors and it eventually went official that he would reappear on the show, and not as a ghost, but as the same old Dan, as many speculated. “I can confirm that Dan is definitely still alive,” ABC entertainment President Channing Dungey said. However, these aren’t the only surprising twists about the reboot…
Writers Are Also Returning
Roseanne Barr, who is considered by most to be the genius behind the show’s undeniable charm and willingness to push the envelope, came back with a bang. After having such a large hand in the original 220-episode run, she continued to write for the show. That’s not all; other executive producers such as Bruce Helford and Tom Werner returned to helm the show. However, just like the cast, the production team was joined by fresh meat such as Tony Hernandez and Whitney Cummings.
Although that casting decision sparked heated debates online, it seems to be fitting for the type of show that Roseanne has always been. It makes sense that the show would come back with a bang and get people talking. Here was one of the first images taken of the cast back together for the first time in years, enjoying their first table read. And despite Dan Conner’s death, John Goodman came back and even said on the show, “why does everybody always think I’m dead?”