Roseanne — 20 Years Later

by Melissa Silverstein on October 29, 2008

in TV

Can you believe Roseanne premiered 20 years ago? Think we would see a woman like Roseanne on TV today? Fat and outspoken. Forget the outspoken part. Think about the fat part. She was fat, not just overweight. She was obese as was John Goodman. The kids were skinny which to me was always a bit unrealistic cause I don’t really remember any shows where the girls dealt with how their mom’s weight affected them.

Women on TV today are so skinny. Remember the show Less Than Perfect that ran a couple of years ago? That was supposedly a show about a “full-sized” young woman. Sara Rue was no full-sized woman — she was like an 8 or a 10. I guess to TV, that’s full-sized.

The issues that the show covered and dealt with are now just ignored or brushed under the rug. I find it amazing and pathetic that the show was NEVER nominated for an Emmy during its run.

EW gathered the cast as well as execs and creatives for a reunion (some going on the record for the first time.) The early part of the story focuses on the early controversy between Roseanne and Matt Williams who got the Writers Guild credit for creating the show much to Roseanne’s disgust and wrath. She, of course, was deemed crazy and difficult (which she probably was) but she was also fighting for herself and her life. This was a depiction of her life. They threatened to fire her multiple times.

Roseanne: I was crying all the time. They said, ”Oh, we’re going to fire you off the show.” George Clooney 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 [Valerie]. I will always love George for that. They were compiling this list of all the offensive things I had done to fire me.

Some issues that the show dealt with that we wouldn’t see on TV today include: birth-control, PMS, getting your period, the lesbian kiss (ok- you’ll see this one). I still remember what a big deal the lesbian kiss episode was. Everyone watched it.

Lecy Goranson (played Becky): I can’t tell you how many women my age have said that they were watching [the birth-control episode] with their mom and then looked over at each other and were like, ”Okay, we should talk about it.”

Amy Sherman-Palladino (was a writer on the show for three seasons): They would not let you do that story today. I think that was the real amazing thing about it. Keeping true to those characters and true to life was everything. It was never about, Let’s break ground! Because that’s the kind of thought process that brings up bulls—, contrived stories.

Roseanne sums the legacy of the up best:

It’s more relevant now than it was then. I’m very proud of its timelessness, and the fact that it has a political edge that is even more relevant now than it was then. I’m proud of the fact that it’s never gone off the air for 20 years.

A Roseanne Family Reunion

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Deaf Brown Trash Punk October 29, 2008 at 8:16 AM

my mum wouldn’t let me watch this show or “Married…with Children” cos she claimed it was for white trash folks and that we should have nothing to do with them. *rolls my eyes*

i used to watch it late at night sometimes and i was impressed by how realistic Roseanne was. Today we have slutty, fancy, rich brats on TV shows (Gossip Girl, anybody?) that we can’t relate to.

grrljock October 29, 2008 at 9:51 AM

Wow, now I feel old! Roseanne was the only sitcom on network TV that dealt with real-life issues, and where problems were not solved within the episode’s duration. It’s pretty sad that 20 years later, there have not been more honest shows like it.

Kelly Gingery October 30, 2008 at 7:43 AM


“Roseanne”, one of my all-time favorite shows EVER.

This is a “sit-com” that is real and could actually make you laugh. Everything, the writing, the characters, the situations, the set.

So great.

I loved this EW piece, with a little more info on the goings-on BEHIND the scenes. (Obviously, some of it we had heard rumblings about….)

There is no doubt that Roseanne is one-of-a-kind, smart, funny, opinionated, gutsy, etc, etc, etc.

Those network suits just didn’t know what hit them….and the result was some of the best television comedy (and drama) we had seen in a very long time.

I’ll never forget seeing a clip from her comedy act (before the show hit…..) where she said:

“Ya know, people always say I’m a little too masculine. Ya know what I say? Suck my dick!”


Hope I didn’t offend anyone……but it makes me laugh every time!

And so does watching “Roseanne” repeats.


Anonymous November 5, 2008 at 5:27 PM

My comment was removed when I made a comment that it was a curtsy to the patriarchy to say Roseanne was probably difficult and crazy. Who knew the poster here censors anyone who supports women and does not have fawning praise of every word? THAT is not feminist.

Melissa Silverstein November 5, 2008 at 7:49 PM


I didn’t delete your comment. Are you sure it was posted? Don’t remember it. Can you repost it?

I don’t delete comments except when they are clearly computer generated or vile and it doesn’t sound like yours fit into that category.

Would love to hear your thoughts.


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