ABC treated Oscar viewers to a glimpse of their upcoming Rosanne revival during the Oscars telecast on Sunday and it looks like nothing much has changed for the Conner family. They’re still working-class, they’re still in Illinois, and they’re still OH MY GOD WHAT IS THAT ON JOHN GOODMAN’S FACE?
It turns out sleep apnea has struck the patriarch of the Conner family in the years since the show last aired on ABC in 1997. Which is not great, but technically a step in the right direction, given that Goodman’s character died from a heart attack in the series finale.
It’s easy enough to bring someone back to life on television, but the producers of the new series faced a greater challenge, perhaps nodded to in the trailer’s promise of “Same Cast. New Episodes.” The part of Becky Conner was double-cast on the original series: Lecy Goranson played the role for the first five seasons before gradually transitioning out to go to college. Sarah Chalke played the role for two seasons, then was replaced again by Goranson, who was then replaced yet again by Chalke. In the new series, Goranson will play Becky, but Chalke is coming back too: she’ll be playing a different role, a middle-class woman who hires Becky Conner to be her surrogate. However that turns out as a casting decision, it’s probably a smart plot decision: the show was always frank about issues of class and money in a way most television shows at the time weren’t (and almost none are today).
That frankness will continue when Roseanne returns on March 27, because Roseanne Barr—who voted for Donald Trump herself—wanted to tackle the big conversation white families have been having since the one-time reality star’s election in 2016. As Barr told the Hollywood Reporter, there really wasn’t any other way for her to conceive of the show:
I wanted to do it this way. 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.
John Goodman, however, said he thought the show would still have come back under the Hillary Clinton administration, for a reason that says a lot about why Roseanne was so popular the first time around: “The family is still sunk no matter who gets in.”