Roseanne


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About

Roseanne evolved from the stand-up comedy act and HBO special of its star and executive producer, Roseanne (formerly Roseanne Barr Arnold). In the act, Roseanne deemed herself a "domestic goddess" and dispensed mock cynical advice about child-rearing: "I figure by the time my husband comes home at night, if those kids are still alive, I've done my job." Roseanne, the program, built a working class family around this matriarchal figure and became an instantaneous hit when it premiered in 1988 on ABC.

Roseanne's immediate success may well have been in reaction to the dominant 1980s domestic situation comedy, The Cosby Show. Like The Cosby Show, Roseanne starred an individual who began as a stand-up comic, but the families in the two programs were polar opposites. Where The Cosby Show portrayed a loving, prosperous family with a strong father figure, Roseanne's Conner family was discordant, adamantly working class and mother-centered.

The Conner family included Roseanne, her husband Dan (John Goodman), sister Jackie (Laurie Metcalf), daughters Darlene (Sara Gilbert) and Becky (Lecy Goranson, replaced in fall 1993 by Sarah Chalke), and son D.J. (Michael Fishman). Over the years the household expanded to include Becky's husband Mark (Glenn Quinn) and Darlene's boyfriend David (Johnny Galecki) and, in 1995, a new infant for Roseanne and Dan.

The Connors were constantly facing money problems as they both worked in blue-collar jobs--in factories, hanging sheetrock, running a motorcycle shop, and eventually owning their own diner where they served "loose-meat" sandwiches. Their parenting style was often sarcastic, bordering on scornful. Once, when the kids left for school, Roseanne commented, "Quick. They're gone. Change the locks." But caustic remarks such as these were always balanced by scenes of affection and support so that the stability of the family was never truly in doubt. Much as in its working class predecessor, All in the Family, the Conner family was not genuinely dysfunctional, despite all the rancor.

Roseanne often tested the boundaries of network standards and practices. One episode dealt with the young son's masturbation. In others, Roseanne frankly discussed birth control with Becky and explained her choice to have breast reduction surgery. The program also featured gay and lesbian characters, which made ABC nervous--especially when a lesbian character kissed Roseanne. The network initially refused to air that episode until Roseanne, the producer, demanded they do so.

Controversy attended the program off screen as well. During its first season there were well publicized squabbles among the producing team, which led to firings and Roseanne assuming principal control of the program. Subsequently, Roseanne battled ABC over its handling of her then-husband Tom Arnold's sitcom, The Jackie Thomas Show. Dwarfing these professional controversies has been the strife in Roseanne's publicly available personal life. Among the events that have been chronicled in the tabloid press are her tumultuous marriage to and divorce from Arnold (amid accusations of spousal abuse), the reconciliation with the daughter she put up for adoption (which was forced by a tabloid newspaper's threat to reveal the story), her charges of being abused as a child, struggles with addictions to food and other substances, and a misfired parody of the national anthem at a baseball game (1990).

-Jeremy Butler

CAST

Roseanne Conner.......................................... Roseanne

Dan Conner ............................................John Goodman

Becky Conner (1988-1992, 1995-1996)......Lecy Goranson

Becky Conner (1993-1995)........................ Sarah Chalke

Darlene Conner........................................... Sara Gilbert

D.J. (David Jacob) Conner (pilot)................... Sal Barone

D.J. Conner........................................ Michael Fishman

Jackie Harris ...........................................Laurie Metcalf

Crystal Anderson (1988-1992)..................... Natalie West

Booker Brooks (1988-1989)................... George Clooney

Pete Wilkins (1988-1989) ............................Ron Perkins

Juanita Herrera (1988-1989) ................Evalina Fernandez

Sylvia Foster (1988-1989).......................... Anne Falkner

Ed Conner (1989-) ........................................Ned Beatty

Bev Harris (1989-) .................................Estelle Parsons

Mark Healy (1990-) .....................................Glenn Quinn

David Healy (1992-) ..................................Johnny Galeki

Grandma Nanna (1991-) ...........................Shelly Winters

Leon Carp (1991-) .........................................Martin Mull

Bonnie (1991-1992)............................... Bonnie Sheridan

Nancy (1991-)...................................... Sandra Bernhard

Fred (1993-)......................................... Michael O'Keefe

PRODUCERS

Marcy Carsey, Tom Werner, Roseanne

PROGRAMMING HISTORY

ABC

October 1988-February 1989   Tuesday 8:30-9:00

February 1989-September 1994   Tuesday 9:00-9:30

September 1994-March 1995   Wednesday 9:00-9:30

March 1995-May 1995   Wednesday 8:00-8:30

May 1995-September 1995   Wednesday 9:30-10:00

September 1995-   Wednesday 8:00-8:30

FURTHER READING

Arnold, Roseanne. My Lives. New York: Ballantine, 1994.

Dresner, Zita Z. "Roseanne Barr: Goddess or She-devil." Journal of American Culture (Bowling Green, Ohio), Summer 1993.

Dworkin, Susan. "Roseanne Barr: The Disgruntled Housewife as Stand-up Comedian." Ms. Magazine (New York), July-August 1987.

Rich, Frank. "What Now My Love." The New York Times, 6 March 1994.

Rowe, Kathleen. The Unruly Woman: Gender and Genres of Laughter. Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press, 1995.

Givens, Ron. "A Real Stand-up Mom." Newsweek (New York), 31 October 1988.

Klaus, Barbara. "The War of the Roseanne: How I Survived Three Months in the Trenches Writing for TV's Sitcom Queen." New York, 22 October 1990.

Lee, Janet. "Subversive Sitcoms: Roseanne as Inspiration for Feminist Resistance." Women's Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal (Claremont, California), 1992.

Mayerle, Judine. "Roseanne-How Did You Get Inside My House? A Case Study of a Hit Blue-Collar Situation Comedy." Journal of Popular Culture (Bowling Green, Ohio), Spring 1991.

Volk, Patricia. "Really Roseanne." The New York Times Magazine, 8 August 1993.

Highlights
Chuck Lorre on writing for the then-number-one show in comedy, Roseanne
05:30
Barbara Billingsley on guesting on the Roseanne episode "All About Rose"
01:29
Genie Francis briefly on her and Anthony Geary's guest appearance on Roseanne
01:14
Who talked about this show

Edward Asner

View Interview
Ed Asner on various projects he acted in post-Lou Grant
08:52

Barbara Billingsley

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Barbara Billingsley on guesting on the Roseanne episode "All About Rose"
01:29

Marcy Carsey

View Interview
Marcy Carsey and Tom Werner on developing and casting Roseanne
09:21
Marcy Carsey and Tom Werner on how Roseanne evolved throughout the run of the show
01:07
Marcy Carsey and Tom Werner on the end of Roseanne
00:48

Garvin Eddy

View Interview
Garvin Eddy on receiving an Emmy nomination for his Production Design on Roseanne
Garvin Eddy on the challenges with Roseanne and depicting the family's economic condition in the production design

Genie Francis

View Interview
Genie Francis briefly on her and Anthony Geary's guest appearance on Roseanne
01:14

Michael Fuchs

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Michael Fuchs on various series HBO had a hand in developing or eventually turned down
03:11

Russell Johnson

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Russell Johnson on appearing as "The Professor" on shows other than Gilligan's Island
00:51

Chuck Lorre

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Chuck Lorre on writing for the then-number-one show in comedy, Roseanne
05:30

Tammy Faye Bakker Messner

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Tammy Faye Bakker-Messner on appearing on Roseanne 
00:09

Estelle Parsons

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Estelle Parsons on her role as "Beverly Harris" on Roseanne, and on working with Roseanne
09:43
Estelle Parsons on working with the cast of Roseanne, and on how the show will be remembered
05:53

Hector Ramirez

View Interview
Hector Ramirez on how sitcoms in the '80s and '90s differed from those in the '70s
01:42

Brandon Stoddard

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Brandon Stoddard on developing Roseanne
03:18

W.G. Snuffy Walden

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W.G. Snuffy Walden on composing for Roseanne
00:24
W.G. Snuffy Walden on composing for Roseanne
00:19

Dawn Wells

View Interview
Dawn Wells on working on Roseanne
00:32

Tom Werner

View Interview
Marcy Carsey and Tom Werner on developing and casting Roseanne  
09:21
Marcy Carsey and Tom Werner on how Roseanne evolved throughout the run of the show
01:07
Marcy Carsey and Tom Werner on the end of Roseanne  
00:48

Fred Willard

View Interview
Fred Willard on playing "Scott" on Roseanne
03:34
Fred Willard on playing a gay couple with Martin Mull on Roseanne
03:23
Fred Willard on how it felt to be reunited with Martin Mull on Roseanne in a groundbreaking storyline
03:38
Fred Willard on his gay wedding scene on Roseanne
01:43

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