The Conners are coming home. Yesterday, ABC made it official, announcing that the classic sitcom Roseanne would be returning to the network sometime in 2018. Like with many nostalgia projects that have cropped up in recent years, my first instinct was to get excited — especially given the opportunity for the groundbreaking show and its unique voice to comment on the interesting times in which we live. However, unlike other revivals, spin-offs, and sequels like Girl Meets World, Fuller House, and The X-Files, the way Roseanne left the airwaves presents some major mysteries for this new incarnation. Here are just a few of my most pressing questions:
While Roseanne enjoyed a historic run on ABC and was praised for its honest and hilarious portrayal of blue-collar life, the show’s final season threw all that to the wind. After the Conners win the lottery, life was sure to change, but what actually followed was one of strangest seasons of television and greatest departures from a program’s formula in modern memory. It seemed each episode of the season featured a completely different, fantasy-filled, off the walls plot. So how would the show explain this sudden and drastic change when it was time to wrap things up? By making things even stranger.
In the final moments of the series finale, it is explained that what we’ve watched for the past nine years were writings by Roseanne Conner. She then goes on the explain some of the changes she made to her story and how things were in real life. Among these differences is that Darlene was actually with Mark while Becky ended up with David. But the biggest revival-ruining reveal is that her husband Dan had actually died.
All this begs the question: will these new episodes take place in “reality” or another Conner novel? (Yes, I realize it’s weird to call a scripted TV show “reality” but The Bachelor does it every week.) With John Goodman on board for the reboot, it’s clear something has changed with Dan’s status — and I’m doubting this is supposed to be a prequel. One clue is that, in 2009, the Roseanne Barr posted a pitch for a revival on her website that included a plot point of Dan faking his death. While that would technically work, it casts doubt as to whether these upcoming episodes will stay true to what made the show a breakout hit or resort to the over-the-top gimmicks that Season 9 and its finale are so reviled for.
Will Johnny Galecki Show Up?
When a famed show is reuniting, the first question everyone wants to know is will they get to see everyone they loved from the original program? So far we know that the original Conner clan is in place but there are questions about some of the other supporting stars. Sadly, we know that we won’t get to see Glenn Quinn, who played Becky’s (or Darlene’s, depending on that season 9 question) husband Mark on the show as he passed away in 2002. But it would seem almost wrong if David, played by Johnny Galecki, didn’t make at least some appearance on the show.
Of course, Mr. Galecki is tied up for at least the next two years on a little show called The Big Bang Theory. Incidentally, Laurie Metcalf who played and will return to play Jackie Harris on the Roseanne is also on Big Bang, although her role as Sheldon’s mother demands far less of her time than Galecki’s Leonard. That said, with a reported 8-episode order for Roseanne in place, it seems likely that Galecki will at least find some way to make a cameo, perhaps even shooting all of his scenes at one time. Heck, if Sara Gilbert can find time to produce and host The Talk while also starring in and EPing this new Roseanne revival, Johnny can surely squeeze it in too.
Who Will Sarah Chalke Play?
The other big casting question involves someone who’s confirmed to be returning… but as who? In case you’re not aware, two actresses played the role of Becky Conner throughout the show’s run. The original Becky was played by Lecy Goranson, who not only returned for a short time in the show’s original run but is also taking back over for this reboot. As for Becky number two/four, Scrubs and How I Met Your Mother actress Sarah Chalke will be cast as a different character.
This, once again, may raise concern about how grounded this new season will be but, to be fair, the show always had fun breaking the fourth wall in relation to their rotating Beckies (as seen above). Perhaps they’ll pull a stunt similar to the recent Girl Meets World finale where both Morgan Matthews appeared without much explanation. Whatever they come up with for Chalke, let’s just hope it’s something good.
With all these questions aside, there’s only one more to ask: are you excited for the Roseanne revival coming to ABC next year?
Kyle is a writer living in Springfield, MO. His deep love of Disney and other pop culture finds its way into his stories, scripts, and tweets. His first book “The E-Ticket Life: Stories, Essays, and Lessons Learned from My Decidedly Disney Travels” is available in paperback and for Kindle. http://amzn.to/1CStAhV