The Return of a Classic
Though old fans will surely tune in to see what all the hubbub is about, Roseanne Executive Producer Bruce Helford is hoping that new viewers will want to check out the Conner Family. “We are writing about what is going on in the world now, and we are hoping to involve everybody,” he says.
Roseanne Barr and John Goodman
Roseanne and Dan Conner (played by Barr and Goodman) represent the common man and woman in the country today, says Helford. “Everybody is concerned about taxes. Everybody is concerned about jobs. This couple has no health care. They barely can make a living. They are going through what is being discussed in every home. What better family to be dealing with this than people who are living it?”
Like the first time the comedy aired, Barr played an important role in the writers room for the reunion. But this time, she was even more accessible to the rest of the staff, explains Helford. “Roseanne used to be so busy with everything going on and all the demands on her time, we had to second guess her a little bit on what she would be happy with. Now she is there with us, so it’s much faster to get her input, her take and her understanding of blue class people. That wasn’t the case back in the day. You’d see her but you couldn’t get to her.”
It didn’t even dawn on Goodman to ask about how his character will have survived the 1997 finale, when he was killed off by a heart attack. “I don’t care. I didn’t care. It was irrelevant. It was just silly,” he tells EW.
Laurie Metcalf was eager to jump back into the role of Jackie Harris, Roseanne’s frenetic sister. “It was something I remembered so vividly and with such real tenderness. We were a family for nine seasons. And I had a feeling as soon as we stepped back onto the stage again, it would just reappear. And it did.”
As one of the show’s executive producers, Sara Gilbert knew that ABC was the most obvious home for the reboot. “We talked to a few different people, but ABC is the right home for it because it started on ABC. This had a loyal fanbase on a certain network. We were excited to put it on a network where people don’t have to pay for it. There’s nothing exclusive about it. This is a show for the every man and every woman in this country.”
“I would say I still have elements of being sweet and naïve,” says Michael Fishman of his character, D.J. Conner. “My character is fun because everybody else was an adult when the show ended. I was 15. I’m the one open character that has lots of room to start new.”
Upon returning to the set, Lecy Goranson said, “It felt so comfortable. It felt like walking in to a childhood home. I could immediately tell the differences were, as wonderful as the art department is. The feel was the same, but it was obviously not the same couch. And the picture of the dogs playing pool wasn’t up. But I was really impressed by what they had re-created.”
Sarah Chalke, a.k.a. the second Becky from the show’s original run, will play a middle-class woman who asks Becky (Goranson) to serve as her surrogate. “I love the part! It’s such a fun part to play,” she says.
The second Becky (Chalke) with the original Becky (Goranson).
In this scene from the first episode, Dan brings home his and Roseanne’s various prescriptions and laments about how costly they have become. “I’m always amazed at how few shows there are from a blue-collar point of view,” says Helford. “There are just not many shows that tackle things the way this show can. It has a voice unlike any other.”
Hmm, is Jackie’s pussy hat a dead giveaway? Suffice it to say she didn’t vote for Donald Trump, but someone in the Conner household did.
Barr said there were a million reasons for her to come back. “That would be a three-hour discussion I think.” But she wouldn’t return if she didn’t continue to have a big say in the scripts. “I had always had a strong voice in the scripts. Of course, I made my demands, and they were met, and I’m very grateful.”
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