Roseanne was a revelation when it hit the air in 1988. Starring the razor-sharp stand-up comedian and self-proclaimed “domestic goddess” Roseanne Barr, aka Roseanne Arnold, aka just Roseanne, the show was one of the first to depict the way millions of real Americans live — with financial problems, irksome children, and situations that don’t get resolved in 22 minutes.
It dominated the TV ratings in the ’80s and ’90s, made huge stars out of Barr, John Goodman, Sara Gilbert, Johnny Galecki, and Laurie Metcalf, successfully juggled two Beckys … and it returns to TV in 2018. Here’s a look behind the scenes of this smash sitcom.
The show was conceived before Roseanne was cast
In the late ’80s and early ’90s, it was common to build a show around a stand-up, like The Cosby Show, Seinfeld, or Tim Allen’s Home Improvement. Roseanne certainly feels like it was based on the act of Roseanne Barr, a wife and mom who joked about that lifestyle on stage, but she was actually cast in a role that TV producers Marcy Carsey and Tom Werner had already conceived.
“The way we develop shows is that we look at what’s not on television, and what ought to be. What wasn’t on at the time was anything about a working mother.” Carsey told the Archive of American Television. “We knew we needed a loud and interesting and unique and in-your-face kind of presence to take it to the more outrageous end of the spectrum.” Werner suggested a comedian they’d both seen (and thoroughly enjoyed) on The Tonight Show: Roseanne Barr.