ROSEANNE Revival Premiere’s March 27 – The Classics Really Do Hold Up

ROSEANNE is back, and the iconic television series hasn’t missed a beat.  The original cast pick right up where they left things 20 years ago, and the family issues and acerbic humor still resonate with audiences today.  Unafraid and unapologetic about tackling difficult subjects such as our current political divisions – ROSEANNE demonstrates how to embrace those differences by pointing out the humor on all sides.  ROSEANNE is a show I want to share with my kids, and I think my daughters (ages 20 & 17) would find it as poignant as I did when I was their age.

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ABC’s “Roseanne” stars (L-R) Ames McNamara as Mark, Sara Gilbert as Darlene Conner, Laurie Metcalf as Jackie Harris, Emma Kenney as Harris Conner, Jayden Rey as Mary, Roseanne Barr as Roseanne Conner, Michael Fishman as D.J. Conner, John Goodman as Dan Conner, Lecy Goranson as Becky Conner, and Sarah Chalke as Andrea. (ABC/Robert Trachtenberg)

In December, I visited the ROSEANNE revival set and chatted with star and Executive Producer Sara Gilbert (Darlene) as well as returning cast members Lecy Goranson (Becky) and Michael Fishman (D.J.).  We had a wide-ranging conversation on why they brought the show back as well as how it felt to return.

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(L-R) Michael Fishman (D.J.), Executive Producer Sara Gilbert (Darlene), and Lecy Goranson (Becky) on the set of ROSEANNE in December, 2017, photo by Dave Parfitt

Michael Fishman (D.J.) credited Sara Gilbert for bringing everyone together and getting the ROSEANNE revival off the ground.  She was motivated to bring the Conner family back now because of our divided country.  The Conners are working class with different political views, and Gilbert wants to show how people can disagree on issues without the nasty divisiveness (but with biting sarcasm).  Fishman praised Sara for prioritizing the family struggle and grappling with difficult choices in a funny way.  Michael said,

“I think we as parents know there are times when you end up doing things you didn’t imagine, but you’re making the best of a situation.  Which I think most of the country will really respond to.”

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Sign on the backstage door on the set of ROSEANNE, photo by Dave Parfitt

It was clear sitting down with the cast they are a family coming home.  Sara Gilbert said her favorite moments of the show were those with Lecy Goranson (Becky).  “My relationship with Dan & Roseanne were very different,” Gilbert explained, “they were parents and now we’re peers.”  Sara went on, “but the relationships with my siblings is the same, we love each other and bail each other out.”  Michael Fishman commented, “it’s a very real thing of loving the people you work with, loving the characters, loving the show.”  Lecy Goranson expressed some initial apprehension about coming back, and elaborated in a moving way.

“I had a lot of anxiety about, particularly, the writing, if it was going to be good, if it was going to feel like the show. What was it going to look like? What was it going to be like? I had so many questions. Then when I showed up to set and we were around the table and we were reading, I just felt so relieved and so connected and grounded in our world again. And it was just such a moving, beautiful thing. I’m about to cry.”

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Initial table read for the ROSEANNE revival, photo courtesy ABC

Like the original run, the ROSEANNE revival deals with current issues including politics, gender identity, class, life, death, and everything in between.  Michael Fishman added, “the show resonates because we deal with real life topics that working class people are dealing with.”

Sara Gilbert described ROSEANNE as a hybrid of a comedy and a drama.  “It doesn’t really feel like a sitcom.  Sometimes we’re doing it and, it’s like, wow, this is heavy, but we handle everything with humor” Gilbert explained. “But it’s exciting, because we deal with all these heavy topics and you want to be able to make an impact and help people see their stories represented on television,” Sara added, “I feel really proud.”

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“Twenty Years to Life” – Darlene (Sara Gilbert) and Roseanne (Roseanne Barr) in the season opener for ROSEANNE (ABC/Adam Rose)

Family is a running thread throughout the conversation – their cast family as well as their own.  Michael Fishman said his children had a great perspective on the show, and explained,

“My kids have watched the old ROSEANNE shows.  They watched it in passing because of the time period, and said it was a good show and entertaining.  However, what’s fascinating is my kids are now 18 (son) and 15 (daughter).  I brought my kids in Week 1.  They’ve known the cast in passing as people important in my life.  After watching, my son is really quiet, and eventually said ‘oh, this is good.’ My 15 year old daughter said, ‘everyone is so good, and I see why they are so important to you.’ There’s something special about this place, these people, you can see that we really care about them.”

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Iconic couch on the set of ROSEANNE, photo by Dave Parfitt

ROSEANNE returns to ABC on Tuesday, March 27 at 8:00 pm in a special hour-long premiere; the ROSEANNE revival will have 9 episodes all together.  The show picks up 20 years later, right where they left off – but poor.  For more family friendly entertainment news, be sure to follow Adventures by Daddy on InstagramTwitter and “like” our Facebook page too.

About Dave Parfitt

Married, father of two girls, and living in the heart of the Finger Lakes. I'm a runner with a PhD in neuroscience and a passion for travel.