In one of the more enlightened updates to Roseanne, Darlene’s son Mark (Ames McNamara) likes to dress up in girl’s clothing. But it would be wrong to assume the 9-year-old character is transitioning or is gay. We asked executive producer Sara Gilbert (Darlene) to explain why she created the role of Mark and what fans can expect of his story arc when the reunion begins its nine-episode run March 27 on ABC.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Does Mark see himself as a girl?
SARA GILBERT: He doesn’t. That’s something that got out in the press that’s not true. He’s not a transgender character. He’s a little boy. He’s based on a few kids in my life that are boys who dress in more traditionally feminine clothing. He’s too young to be gay and he doesn’t identify as transgender, but he just likes wearing that kind of clothing and that’s where he is at this point in his life.
How much do you address his desire to wear girl’s clothing?
There is an episode that addresses it. He dresses that way throughout the show, but there’s one episode that focuses on it more heavily. We did a lot of research because we wanted to make sure and do it properly. This character is not transgender.
What made you want to create this character?
It represents the world. This is a show that’s always been able to represent the world and talk about it without being so issue-heavy. We can do it through the dynamics of the family. I know kids like that and it seemed like a great character. One kid in particular that I know is so sweet, funny, charming, and great. In a way the character— that’s one element of the character that he dresses that way, but he’s also based on this kid I know in a lot of other ways. I don’t want to pigeonhole him and say just because he dresses this way that’s the only thing about him. He happens to dress that way but he’s an amazing, creative, brilliant kid, which you will see, and so is the kid, Ames, who plays him.
Read more from our Roseanne cover story here. The revival premieres on March 27 at 8 p.m. on ABC.