During the time when shows like The Wonder Years, Growing Pains, Murphy Brown, Designing Women, Dallas and Dynasty, ruled the television traffic, a new kind of family was introduced to American tv. It was praised for it’s portrayal of blue-collar America, and it won an Emmy Award for breaking new ground for storylines. Recently, the show just made a legendary comeback. ABC announced that Roseanne would return for another season on May 16th, 2017. If you’ve already watched it’s premier, you’re amongst a big crowd. Here are some things you might not know about the series that helped make Roseanne Barr a household name.
1. The Success Of Roseanne Jumpstarted The Trend Of Giving Comedians Their Own Sitcoms
The producers of the show, Marcy Carsey and Tom Werner, were interested in developing a sitcom revolving around a working mother. When they witnessed Roseanne Barr’s “domestic goddess” comedy routine in 1985 on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, they immediately offered her a show. She wasn’t the first stand-up performer to transition to TV, but her ABC show was an immediate hit. By it’s second season, it was number one in the Nielsen ratings and remained in the top four for six of nine seasons. Networks then followed suit, offering development deals to comedians like Tim Allen, Brett Butler, Ellen DeGeneres, and Ray Romano.
2.The Show Was Originally Named “Life And Stuff”
The creator, head writer and executive producer, Matt Williams said that they originally wanted to establish the sitcom as an ensemble piece. Barr argued that the show should be titled Roseanne, since the show revolved around the lead character and was based on her life.
3.It Wasn’t Shot In Illinois
Yes, the exterior shots were shot in Evansville, Indiana, Not Illinois. They chose Evansville, because that’s where co-executive producer, Matt Williams grew up. The house used for the facade of the Conner home went up for sale in early 2013. It was taken off the market less than a month later.
4. John Goodman And Laurie Metcalf Were Cast With Ulterior Motives
Since Roseanne Barr had never acted before, the producers hoped that if they surrounded her with a strong supporting cast, it would be like giving her a crash course in acting. Barr and Goodman were said to have great chemistry and fought like a married couple from the first reading. Goodman was the first and only actor to audition for the role of Dan Conner.
5. Macaulay Culkin Auditioned For The Role Of DJ
If Culkin ended up being cast, it would’ve been his big break. Instead, Michael Fisherman received the role, replacing Sal Barone from the pilot. Barr told Entertainment Weekly, “I wanted Michael Fisherman because he looked like my family and he was not like all the other little Hollywood bastards. The network wanted one person, the production company wanted another person, and she wanted me. In many ways, I’m one of the first battles she won.
6. Roseanne Was a Critical Comedy, But Was Never Nominated For An Emmy For Best Comedy Series
Laurie Metcalf won three consecutive Emmys for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her role as Roseanne’s sister, Jackie. But, the show never managed to grab a Best Comedy Series nomination. While John Goodman’s portrayal of Dan Conner earned an Outstanding Lead Actor nomination seven years in a row, he never took home an award.
7. It Was One Of The First Primetime Shows To Feature Openly Gay Characters
Barr insisted on featuring gay characters as friends, family member, co-workers and neighbors, even though the network executives protested. In season eight of the show, Roseanne’s former boss, Leon, married his partner Scott-a scene that wouldn’t be so unusual today, but was extremely controversial back in 1995. A year later, Roseanne’s mother came out of the closet, and in the finale, it was revealed that Roseanne’s sister Jackie was a lesbian. Who could also forget the scandalous kiss between Barr and guest star Mariel Hemingway.
8. Roseanne Launched Joss Whedon’s Career
Joss Whedon began his television career as a staff writer on the hit show. Whedon was only 24 years old when he wrote four episodes of the show’s second season. A few other big names in television that honed their skills on the show were Amy Sherman-Palladino, and Chuck Lorre.
9. All Three Of Barr’s Ex-Husbands Made Guest Appearances On The Show
The show was inspired by life with the comedian’s first husband, Bill Pentland, and their three children. Pentland served as as executive consultant for three seasons, wrote two episodes, and played one of Dan’s buddies in an early episode. In 1990, Barr divorced Pentland after 16 years of marriage. About four days later, she wed comedian Tom Arnold, who had a recurring role as Arnie Thomas. In 1995, Barr married Ben Thomas, her former bodyguard, and gave him a small role as a cop.
10. The Fictional Lanford Lunch Box Inspired A Real-Life Restaurant
Three years after they married, Barr and Arnold opened Roseanne and Tom’s Big Food Diner in Eldon, Iowa, near Arnold’s hometown. It served the same loose meat sandwiches as the Lanford Lunch Box, the restaurant Roseanne opened with her sister, mom, and friend Nancy in season five. Unfortunately, the diner closed in 1995.
11. The Theme Song Changed Dramatically In It’s Last Season
After using an instrumental version for eight seasons, they decided to use a new theme song courtesy of Blues Traveler’s John Popper, for it’s ninth and final season. The change helped foreshadow the incredibly bizarre finale.
12. ABC Required The Conners To Visit Disney World
It seemed incongruous for the Conners to visit “The Happiest Place on Earth” but in season eight, that’s exactly what they did, twice. This is because the ABC-Walt Disney Company merger in 1995 required family shows to feature Disney World or Disneyland.
13.Barr Has Predicted Where The Conners Would Be Today, It’s Not A Happy Ending
In 2008, Barr told Entertainment Weekly, “I’ve always said now that if they were on TV, D.J would have been killed in Iraq, and the Conners would have lost their house.” In her blog, she spoke about more potential plot lines including, Becky’s job at Walmart, David and Darlene Divorcing, and Roseanne and Jackie opening the first medical marijuana dispensary in Lanford. Looks like now they’ll finally have a chance to explore these plot lines!
14. Roseanne Has Always Wanted To Come Back To Primetime TV
When the show ended in 1997, ABC considered a sequel about her life as a widow. In 2011, she filmed a pilot entitled “Downwardly Mobile” about life in a trailer park, but it wasn’t picked up by NBC. In 2013, Barr was in talks with NBC again for a 10/90 sitcom deal, where the network orders a straight-to-series run of 10 episodes and then orders 90 more if the show’s successful. Unfortunately, the deal never came through.
15. In 1990, Barr Got A Spin Off Deal For A Saturday Morning Cartoon
Little Rosey was an animated series that was assumed to be about Roseanne, the real person as a child. Barr didn’t voice her character in the first season, which could be the reason the show didn’t take off. Although Barr agreed to play Rosey in the second season, the show was cancelled and replaced by “Teenage Mutant Ninja turtles”.
16. Why Did Roseanne Just Get Cancelled Again After Re-booting?
ABC canceled its hit sitcom “Roseanne” on Tuesday after the show’s biggest star, Roseanne Barr, went on a racist Twitter rant. “Roseanne’s Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel her show,” ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey said in a statement. Disney CEO Bob Iger added on Twitter that “there was only one thing to do here, and that was the right thing.” The cancellation stunned Hollywood. Industry veterans said they’ve never seen anything quite like it. The revival of “Roseanne” premiered to huge ratings just three months ago. Pre-production was already underway on a second season, which was scheduled for Tuesdays at 8 p.m. this fall. But now the show is over. ABC was planning to air a repeat of “Roseanne” Tuesday night, but a rerun of “The Middle” will air in its place. Barr’s talent agency, ICM Partners, also dropped her on Tuesday. “What she wrote is antithetical to our core values, both as individuals and as an agency,” the agency said in a statement. “Consequently, we have notified her that we will not represent her. Effective immediately, Roseanne Barr is no longer a client.”
John Goodman gets cast over Tom Arnold
Before the two got married, Roseanne Barr tried to get Tom Arnold as her TV husband, Dan Conner. In Stealing the Show, casting director Risa Bramon Garcia revealed producers instead wanted someone with more experience. Creator Matt Williams told Entertainment Weekly that Goodman got the part after his first interaction with Barr. “We brought him in the room, he looked at Roseanne, and said, ‘Scoot over.’ She said, ‘Shut up,’ he plopped down, and it was like they had been married for 16 years.”
Shooting the pilot gets pushed back
Brandon Stoddard, the then-president of ABC, told Entertainment Weekly that while the network was desperate for a hit, they had a minor setback before they could start. Before the cast could even shoot the pilot, the set had to be shut down for a week due to fire code violations.
It’s my show and I’ll cry if I want to
The cast and crew of Roseanne came together October 18, 1998 to watch the show live for the first time. But Barr became furious after seeing Matt Williams’ name as the creator of the show, while Barr only get a “starring” credit. Barr wrote for Vulture, “I was devastated and felt so betrayed that I stood up and left the party. Not one person noticed.”
Matt Williams named the official creator of “Roseanne”
Williams later told Entertainment Weekly, “This desperate and angry cry that ‘I created everything,’ well, it’s not true. I did write it. Did I pick her brain and talk to her and watch her stand-up a thousand times? Absolutely. The Writers Guild of America determines these .” Barr tried to file a complaint to the Writers Guild of America, but it was too late.
“Roseanne” without Roseanne?
After Barr tried to get Williams’ “created by” credit taken off, Barr also banned producers from coming on the set. As a result, Williams tried to see if there was a possibility to get rid of Barr and just do the show with a focus on Goodman and Laurie Metcalf. According to Stealing the Show, they both refused to do the show without her.
Running with scissors
Barr started feuding with the wardrobe master over the various outfits they were having her wear. “I wanted vintage plaid shirts, T-shirts, and jeans, not purple stretch pants with green-and-blue smocks,” Barr wrote for Vulture. According to Stealing the Show, a producer told wardrobe to ignore Barr’s requests. Barr then took a pair of scissors to the producer’s office to confront the producer and said, “B–tch, do you want me to cut you?”
No one is safe
Before the show ran its first episode, Barr supposedly kept a list of all the people she had trouble with. According to Stealing the Show, the note said, “These are the people who are going to be fired if they’re not nice to me. People who I am the boss of – everybody … all producers, all writers, all subject to change.” The president of ABC’s name was also included in the list along with Matt Williams, the book claims.
Don’t put words in my mouth
While shooting one of the earlier episodes of season one, Press writes in Stealing the Show, that Barr refused to say a line because she didn’t believe that her character would actually say it. Barr previously edited scripts during the show’s run, but this time Williams was serious about her saying the line. Lawyers were then brought in to persuade her, but she was adamant about her decision.
Clooney and the second Valerie
As tensions rose on set, Barr was told multiple times on set that she was going to be fired. Barr told Entertainment Weekly that George Clooney came to her side during the feud. ” put this sign on my door, where it said, ‘Roseanne Barr.’ He took that name tag out and put ‘Valerie Harper’ instead because she had just been fired off her own show . I will always love George for that.”
Matt Williams exits
As production continued on the first season, tension between Barr and Williams continued to escalate. Williams ended up leaving after episode 13 which meant, according to Barr in her column for Vulture, ” stayed just long enough to ensure him a lifetime’s worth of residuals.” Jeff Harris, writer and creator of Diff’rent Strokes, came in to replace him. Williams later created Home Improvement starring Tim Allen.
In December 1988, Roseanne hit number one in the ratings, beating out The Cosby Show. ABC decided to send Barr a giant chocolate bar in the shape of the number one to celebrate. Barr, however, wasn’t happy with the gift. Barr told Entertainment Weekly, “A big piece of chocolate, like a fat girl would be real happy with. I’m like, “Are you s–tin’ me?” Clooney took a baseball bat to it. I threw it up in the air and George swung at it with a bat. He goes, “Take a picture of this! F–k those a–holes!” We took a picture and sent it to ABC.”
Roseanne’s real family