It’s 2018, and Roseanne Conner and her wacky clan are back! Roseanne, the wildly popular sitcom that ran from 1988 to 1997, is returning to our screens at the end of March. And while fans are incredibly psyched, the revival raises a few questions. One of the more pressing ones being: how will the show handle the Becky situation? As most regular viewers will recall, two different actresses portrayed the role of Roseanne’s eldest daughter on the show. So who gets to be the spacy, beloved blonde in the reboot?
When Roseanne debuted in 1988, it was unlike any show on television. Centered around a brash working mom called Roseanne Conner, played by Roseanne Barr, the program offered a realistic portrait of what it was like to be a blue-collar family in America.
Featuring Roseanne, her husband Dan and their three children – airhead Becky, snarky Darlene and oddball D.J. – the show was like many sitcoms in that it focused on the family. But unlike the usual wholesome TV clans, the Conners were all about keeping it real. So from teen pregnancy worries to figuring out how to pay the electric bill, Roseanne concerned itself with the concerns of everyday people.
What’s more, Roseanne and Dan were uneducated and working class. They were also both overweight – but they never apologized for it, and their weight was never really a source of humor on the show. It was just the way it was. And while this might not seem like a big deal now, it was kind of groundbreaking back in 1988.
In its heyday, then, Roseanne was hilarious, must-see TV. It was the most popular program on television from 1989 to 1990, according to the Nielson ratings, and its other eight seasons ranked in the top 20 most-watched shows, too. TV Guide later rated it as one of the 50 greatest shows of all time, while it also won multiple Emmys, several Golden Globes and even a Peabody.
The show’s final episode aired on May 20, 1997, and it was something else. Indeed, it ended on an incredibly bizarre note with the character of Dan dying, and Roseanne admitting that much of the final season had been a dream.
Once the show finished, though, many cast members went on to enjoy further success. John Goodman, who portrayed Dan, has had a tremendously successful movie career, of course, and Sara Gilbert (Darlene) is a longtime co-host of The Talk. Johnny Galecki – who played Darlene’s boyfriend David – is the star of the immensely popular sitcom The Big Bang Theory.
The actress Laurie Metcalf often stole the show playing Roseanne’s sister. In fact, she scooped three Emmys playing the big-hearted, hilarious Jackie Harris. More recently, Metcalf has won accolades for her work on stage and screen, including an Oscar nomination and a Tony Award.
Meanwhile, Roseanne herself took a more, shall we say, experimental path. Indeed, Barr’s exploits included making an attempt to run for president on the Green Party ticket. She also starred in a reality show called Roseanne’s Nuts, which documented her life on her Hawaiian macadamia nut farm.
Now, a full 20 years after it went off the air, the show is poised for its comeback. And with the original cast onboard, fans are understandably elated. Though the reboot does raise a few questions.
For one, is Dan dead or not? He certainly was in 1997. But it appears that through the magic of television, he has now been resurrected. The show even makes a funny joke about this very plot point in one of its teaser ads.
The teaser shows Dan sitting in front of the TV watching a basketball game, musing that the Chicago Bulls of the 1990s would beat the current team. To which Roseanne responds with, “You can’t live in the past, Dan!” Ha! Get it?
And of course, there’s the rather complicated Becky situation. Becky was the oldest Conner daughter, remember, and the role was originally played by the actress Lecy Goranson.
But in season six Goranson decided to take a leave of absence in order to attend college. She was then replaced by Sarah Chalke, who many will now know best as Elliot from Scrubs. Anyway, in a fun and kooky move, Roseanne occasionally brought back Goranson to play Becky during this time. And in the original show’s opening credits, the actress’ face actually morphs from Goranson to Chalke then back to Goranson again.
So which actress will be returning to the show? Well, the answer is both of them! But it turns out that Lecy Goranson will be reprising the role of Becky Conner, while Sarah Chalke will have a different part altogether.
However, as fans will soon find out, Chalke’s character Andrea will have a close relationship to Becky. A very close one. In fact, Andrea will be hiring Becky to be her surrogate.
For her part, Chalke seems to be perfectly fine with giving up Becky and has said she’s delighted with her new character. When asked about the role of Andrea, Chalke told Entertainment Weekly, “I love the part! It’s such a fun part to play.”
The surrogate storyline is sure to be rife with both laughs and contention, which is kind of a Roseanne specialty. After all, this is a show that has dealt with many controversial topics in the past – domestic violence and racism among them.
But many fans are wondering exactly how political the reboot will be. Roseanne Barr is known for her radical politics, of course, and her online presence is notoriously pro-Trump. It sounds like Barr plans to bring some of these political views to the show, too. “I wanted to do it this way,” she told The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s the conversation everybody is having. Families are not speaking to each other. People are still shocked and upset about it. It’s the state of our country.”
Left-leaning fans, meanwhile, may be hoping the presence of Sara Gilbert (who will also be acting as an executive producer on the show) will help to balance things out politically. Apparently, her character Darlene’s son on the show will be fond of wearing dresses. While Gilbert has said her son’s character isn’t trans, she’s also admitted that she wants to give a nod to where we currently are in the world of parenting, which isn’t as black and white as it used to be.
We can also expect episodes dealing with opioid addiction, which sounds rather dark. But Roseanne has always been about holding a mirror up to America. So for better or worse, we can expect a reflection of the current times. Though rest assured, this time there will be only one Becky in that reflection.