BARR’S BACK IN AC­TION

Roseanne is returning for a 10th sea­son after a 21-year hia­tus and you won’t have to wait long, with pro­mos al­ready start­ing on Chan­nel 10

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - PLAY - LYNNE ELBER

Roseanne Barr looks spiffier, John Good­man slim­mer. But the mass-mar­ket plaid couch is a give­away that the Roseanne re­vival hasn’t ditched its roots.

The blue-col­lar Con­ner fam­ily and the times in which they live are at the heart of the re­boot, just as they were for the hit 1988-97 sit­com in­spired by Barr’s stand-up com­edy.

The prospect of up­dat­ing the com­edy was ex­cit­ing “as long as we were per­mit­ted to tell rel­e­vant and au­then­tic sto­ries” about work­ing-class char­ac­ters, says Tom Werner, a pro­ducer for both shows.

That fo­cus, note­wor­thy in the ’80s when the show en­tered a rel­a­tively small TV uni­verse, is still rare de­spite the swarm of broad­cast, ca­ble and stream­ing shows.

Prof­itabil­ity aside, the in­dus­try has scant artis­tic re­gard for such fare.

Roseanne failed to earn a best sit­com Emmy in its long run, join­ing snubbed shows about the non-af­flu­ent in­clud­ing Mar­ried with Chil­dren and The Mid­dle.

“It’s shock­ing that Roseanne was never even nom­i­nated for best com­edy se­ries at the Em­mys de­spite win­ning the Golden Globe for best com­edy, a Pe­abody and be­ing in the top 10 Nielsen rat­ings year after year,” said Tom O’Neil, au­thor of The Em­mys.

But the show’s per­spec­tive may carry more weight to­day.

The 2016 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign “was a wake-up call in that there were a large group of vot­ers who were frustrated with the sta­tus quo” and be­ing side­lined by the econ­omy, Werner says.

“What we’re in­ter­ested in do­ing is just telling hon­est sto­ries about a fam­ily that’s up against it.”

In Roseanne, it’s up to ma­tri­arch Roseanne, a sup­porter of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, and her sis­ter, Jackie (Met­calf), a hard-core op­po­nent, to han­dle the po­lit­i­cal joust­ing.

“He talked about jobs” and shak­ing things up, Roseanne says of Trump in one scene. “I know this may come as a shock to you, but we al­most lost our house be­cause of the way things were go­ing.”

“Have you looked at the news? Be­cause now things are worse,” Jackie re­torts.

“Not on the real news,” says Roseanne.

Sis­terly love de­fuses the ten­sion, with punch­lines aimed at do­ing the same for view­ers.

Dur­ing a Q & A with TV crit­ics in Jan­uary, Barr ini­tially ducked a ques­tion about whether her own pol­i­tics – she sup­ported Trump – in­flu­enced her char­ac­ter’s. But the usu­ally forth­right Barr, also a writer and pro­ducer on the show, fi­nally dived in.

“I have al­ways at­tempted to por­tray a re­al­is­tic por­trait of the Amer­i­can peo­ple and of work­ing-class peo­ple. ... And, in fact, it was work­ing-class peo­ple who elected Trump. So I felt that was very real, and some­thing that needed to be dis­cussed,” Barr says.

The same holds true for “peo­ple ac­tu­ally hat­ing other peo­ple for the way they voted, which I feel is not Amer­i­can. And so I wanted to bring it (the se­ries) right down the mid­dle, and we did,” Barr says.

She adds that she’s not an apol­o­gist for the Pres­i­dent and doesn’t agree with all he’s said and done, in­clud­ing some “crazy” things.

The writ­ing has the same zest and bite as the orig­i­nal se­ries. Roseanne’s dis­tinc­tive cackle-laugh is in­tact, although she’s less prickly. And if fa­mil­iar­ity breeds more com­fort for view­ers, the largely in­tact cast is there to help.

The Con­ner kids are back, in­clud­ing Sara Gil­bert as Dar­lene, Michael Fish­man as DJ and Lecy Go­ran­son as Becky. Sarah Chalke, who played Becky in later sea­sons, is on hand as a new char­ac­ter, and guest stars in­clud­ing Estelle Par­sons and San­dra Bern­hard will reprise their roles.

Good­man’s re­turn re­quired sleight of hand, given that Dan was killed off by a heart at­tack in the orig­i­nal’s fi­nal sea­son. The re­vi­sion is han­dled with a wink in the sea­son opener.

Good­man’s re­ac­tion: “I thought it was a clever way to do it – to han­dle it and get it out of the way.”

If the nine-episode re­boot proves pop­u­lar, Barr and oth­ers have ex­pressed en­thu­si­asm for an­other sea­son. Roseanne is com­ing soon to Chan­nel 10

Roseanne Barr and John Good­man are back in the re­boot of Roseanne, which is com­ing to Chan­nel 10 soon.

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