It was originally called Life and Stuff
It may seem hard to believe, but the sitcom’s creator, Matt Williams, envisioned the show as more of a collective piece called Life and Stuff. But once Barr was brought on board, her bold personality took over and the show became hers.
Michael Fishman was not the original DJ
It’s hard to picture anyone other than Michael Fishman in the role of little bro D.J., but believe it or not, the part originally went to a boy named Sal Barone. Alas, Barone grew too tall after the original pilot was shot, and the role was handed over to Fishman instead. Bet you didn’t know that Macaulay Culkin was also considered for the character!
There was a Roseanne cartoon
Yes, back in the day, they also made a cartoon version of Roseanne. In this animated version, Roseanne was aged eight, and together with her little sister and her buddy (a character modeled on Dan) they dealt with typical kids’ issues and growing pains. Did you ever see it?
A lot of now-famous writers worked on the show
Many well-known writers got their start on the original Roseanne. Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) Chuck Lorre (The Big Bang Theory) and Amy Sherman-Palladino (Gilmore Girls) all got their start working on Roseanne. Which may explain why it was such a brilliant and funny show!
The Conner House is real
Roseanne might be set in Lanford, Illinois, but it’s actually shot on a studio lot in Hollywood. That little yellow house at the beginning, does actually exist though. You can find it in Evansville, Indiana, where the show’s creator Matt Williams grew up.
Sara Gilbert was attending Yale while also on the show
Becky famously left the show to go to college, and that Sarah Chalke was brought in to replace her. But fans might not know that Sara Gilbert also continued with her education, too. She went to Yale! However, Gilbert was able to stay on the show while going to classes. She filmed many solo scenes on a New York soundstage.
Roseanne once cut off Becky’s hair
Roseanne was often in arguments with the show’s producers, and one dramatic stand-off actually involved Becky’s hairstyle. In the ’90s, when Lecy Goranson wanted to cut her hair in keeping with the style at the time, the producers told her she couldn’t. Roseanne, of course, soon heard about this and proceeded to chop away at Goranson’s hair herself!
The show was almost canceled in 1995
While Roseanne was very successful, it was known for being very tumultuous behind the scenes. And during the show’s eighth season, the whole production almost went belly-up when John Goodman threatened to leave. The network coaxed him into staying, but the show came very close to being canned.
It blazed a trail in giving prominence to gay characters
Roseanne Barr has a gay brother and sister in real life, so it was important to her to have gay people represented on the show. Despite pushback from the network, Roseanne wrote in a boss who was openly gay, and also had her TV mom come out of the closet. The show even featured a gay marriage which, for the time, was groundbreaking.
Roseanne had some wonky plastic surgery after season five
Following season five, the star decided to get a total face revamp. She had a nose job, a facelift, cheek implants, and also got her eyes done. According to Barr, the surgeon actually left a scalpel inside her and had to open her face back up to get it out! Roseanne still hadn’t healed completely by the time the show started shooting again, hence the heavy makeup she’s seen wearing in season six. Ouch!
Roseanne made a lot of dough
While Roseanne Conner was struggling to put bread on the table, Roseanne Barr was living it large. The actress received a ground-breaking $650,000 per episode in the show’s final season before the reboot.
Corn is referenced in every episode
Yup, though only diehard fans might notice this, corn is either mentioned or featured (even if it was corn flakes) in every episode of the original show. We can only assume this is a corny nod to the Midwest? Who’s with us?
Roseanne had a huge crush on John Goodman
The show always portrayed a very affectionate relationship between Roseanne and Dan, and it appears Roseanne Barr had a crush on John Goodman in real life too! It was apparently a well-kept secret on set, but now you know too. They did have wonderful chemistry on screen.
Roseanne and George Clooney once destroyed a cake with a baseball bat
Remember how the now A list movie star George Clooney used to play Jackie’s love interest? Well, one of the weirder behind-the-scenes stories from the original show involves Clooney and a cake. When Roseanne broke records in the ratings, the network sent the cast a cake in the shape of a number one. However, Roseanne thought the network was hinting at her weight, so she and Clooney grabbed some baseball bats and smashed the cake. Then the pair took a picture of what they did and sent it to ABC. We wonder how well that went down.
Roseanne took a serious stand on lines that she found offensive
There was one episode where Barr refused to say one of her lines, because she found it offensive. She was supposed to say to Dan, “You’re my equal in bed, but that’s it.” Roseanne wouldn’t do it, and ABC lawyers were brought in to mediate. She was eventually forced to say the line, yet it never made it on air. So, we guess that the star got her way in the end!
Roseanne suffered a nervous breakdown after season one
When Roseanne first started on the show, she had never worked in television before. She was not ready for the on-set politics, that ensued, and the pressure from producers. She was actually so overwhelmed that she suffered a nervous breakdown after the curtain dropped on season one.
Roseanne’s real-life children suffered as a result of her success
At the height of her fame, Roseanne was one of America’s favorite moms. But in real life, her own children would not have agreed. Roseanne’s kids say their mom’s success greatly impacted their family, as Roseanne was largely absent from home. At one point, Roseanne had to actually stop shooting an episode in order to look for her real-life daughter, who had run away from home.
Roseanne helped John Goodman get sober
John Goodman also felt the pressure of being on such a popular TV show. Goodman struggled with alcohol and addiction, and he even began to drink on the job. What’s more, he actually credits Barr with helping him to finally get clean.
They pay tribute to Glenn Quinn
In the original show, Irish actor Glenn Quinn played Mark Healy, Becky’s handsome loser of a husband. Sadly, Quinn died of a drug overdose in 2002, and he is the only main cast member who is absent from the new revamp. But while he is gone, he is not forgotten: in the show’s reboot, Darlene’s son is named Mark as a tribute to the late actor.
Roseanne had three different husbands during the course of the show
It can be said that Roseanne Barr’s love life is definitely unpredictable. During the course of the initial seasons of Roseanne, which ran from 1988 to 1997, Roseanne had three different husbands. The first was Bill Pentland, who was an executive consultant on the show. The second was Tom Arnold, who worked on the show as a writer, producer and actor. And the third was Ben Thomas, Barr’s former bodyguard who appeared in two episodes of the show.
It’s my show and I’ll cry if I want to
The cast and crew of Roseanne came together October 18, 1998 to watch the show live for the first time. But Barr became furious after seeing Matt Williams’ name as the creator of the show, while Barr only get a “starring” credit. Barr wrote for Vulture, “I was devastated and felt so betrayed that I stood up and left the party. Not one person noticed.”
“Roseanne” without Roseanne?
After Barr tried to get Williams’ “created by” credit taken off, Barr also banned producers from coming on the set. As a result, Williams tried to see if there was possibility to get rid of Barr and just do the show with a focus on Goodman and Laurie Metcalf. According to Stealing the Show, they both refused to do the show without her.
Running with scissors
Barr started feuding with the wardrobe master over the various outfits they were having her wear. “I wanted vintage plaid shirts, T-shirts, and jeans, not purple stretch pants with green-and-blue smocks,” Barr then took a pair of scissors to the producer’s office to confront the producer.
No one is safe
Before the show ran its first episode, Barr supposedly kept a list of all the people she had trouble with. The note said, “These are the people who are going to be fired if they’re not nice to me. People who I am the boss of – everybody … all producers, all writers, all subject to change.” The president of ABC’s name was also included in the list along with Matt Williams, the book claims.
Matt Williams exits
As production continued on the first season, tension between Barr and Williams continued to escalate. Williams ended up leaving after episode 13 which meant, according to Barr in her column for Vulture, “[he] stayed just long enough to ensure him a lifetime’s worth of residuals.” Jeff Harris, writer and creator of Diff’rent Strokes, came in to replace him. Williams later created Home Improvement starring Tim Allen.
The new writer
In the middle of season one, Barr left her husband and soon married Arnold. Barr later hired Arnold as a writer on Roseanne, hoping to have someone new who was close to her and would listen to what she wanted. According to Stealing the Show, writer Norma Safford-Vela was told by a producer to teach Arnold how to write. “We all thought he was 100% talent-free,” she said. “[Barr] was very upset because she thought we didn’t respect her choices, and it’s like, well, no, we just don’t respect this choice.”
Feeding the monster
Tom Arnold was later featured in a documentary called Feeding the Monster: A Week in the Life of Roseanne, showing a behind-the-scenes look of the set of Roseanne. According to the Sunday Times, “Her husband and co-producer, Tom Arnold, seemed even creepier, exhibiting a mean, tight-lipped smile, nonstop hand-pummeling and a gross delight in his power to hire and fire.”
“Seinfeld” versus “Roseanne”
While shooting season 4 of Seinfeld, Julia Louis-Dreyfus accidentally parked in Arnold’s space at the CBS Studio Center. At the time, Arnold was also working on The Jackie Thomas Show, which was on the same lot as Roseanne. Upon discovering Louis-Dreyfus was parked in his spot, according to People, Arnold left a note saying, “How stupid are you? Move your f–king car, you a–hole!” Louis-Dreyfus and several cast and crew members of Seinfeld went to The Jackie Thomas Show set to confront Arnold, who admitted he wrote the note.
What’s your name?
During season 6 of the show, writers were made to wear T-shirts with numbers on them, so Barr could call them by their numbers instead of their own names. Barr told Entertainment Weekly, “I wanted to strip them of their huge, colossal self-entitlement. ‘Hey, you’re just a cog in the wheel here! It’s not about you.’ I think they learned something from it.” New writers Stan Zimmerman and James Berg were both 12 and 13, respectively. Amy Sherman-Palladino, who later created Gilmore Girls, told Entertainment Weekly, “I was number 2. The writers did not think it was funny. Anytime you tell someone, ‘I’m not going to learn your name, here’s your number,’ you’re diminishing their worth.”
Back to the bottom
During its seventh season, Roseanne dropped out of the top 10 ratings for the first time, something Barr says caused “the end of my addiction with fame,” in her Vulture column. “The feeling of being used all those years just because I was in the top 10 — not for my money or even my gluttony — was sobering indeed. I vowed that I would make a complete change top to bottom and rid myself of the desires that had laid me low.”