With Roseanne having been canceled due to Roseanne Barr’s inability to stop herself from tweeting racist insults, ABC is left with a hole in their Fall schedule. After some internal discussion, it appears that a spinoff centering around Dan and Roseanne’s daughter, Darlene, might be the answer. That keeps a lot of people happy, with the cast and crew being saved from losing their jobs and fans of the show getting a continuation of the story.
But what would a Roseanne spinoff need to do to be successful? Let’s take a look all the things we absolutely would need to see in any spinoff from the legendary show about the blue collar family from Lanford, Illinois.
Bring back David
In Season 10 of Roseanne, we come to learn that Darlene and her two kids — Harris and Mark — have moved in with her parents. But, uh, whatever happened to David? He was Darlene’s on-again, off-again boyfriend and then husband in the original series, and it would be hard to imagine him just dropping his family and becoming a dead-beat dad.
But that’s exactly what happened. David returned for one episode, promising to move to Lanford and be a better father, and that’s the last we saw of him. For a spinoff to work, they need to bring Johnny Galecki back for a more regular role. His dynamic with Sara Gilbert in the original series was extremely important to the character of Darlene.
Next: This character also needs to return.
Dan needs a regular role
Most Roseanne fans would probably agree that while Roseanne Conner was the face of the show, Dan Conner was the heart and soul. It’s a big part of why ratings dropped off when Dan was written out briefly during Season 9, and why the original series finale was so controversial for revealing that Dan had died of a heart attack years earlier.
There’s no way around it. Putting together a spinoff featuring the Conner family without Roseanne means killing off the matriarch. That’s the only way that you can feasibly bring John Goodman back as Dan without having to constantly explain away where Roseanne is. At any rate, a spinoff pretty much requires Dan Conner returning, so make it happen ABC.
Next: Another character we need back
Jackie needs to be there too
Roseanne and her sister, Jackie, often had a “Lucy and Ethel” vibe on the original show. The pair were extremely close, with the perpetually single Jackie spending a whole lot of her time at the Conner household with her extended family. But the 2016 presidential election split the sisters in a big way, and Season 10 kicked off by having them reconcile — and also continuing to argue about politics.
Since the most recent season seemingly wrote out all the other people in Jackie’s life, including her son Andy, she’s going to need Dan and the rest of the family a whole lot in the wake of her sister’s death. Getting to further explore the brother/sister relationship that Dan and Jackie have always had would be a must.
Next: How they write Roseanne out matters
Make killing Roseanne count
Previous sitcoms that have killed off major characters often have done it for laughs. Charlie Sheen’s character was killed off Two and a Half Men by supposedly getting hit by a train. That was later retconned, with Sheen’s character having survived only to get a piano dropped on him. But this can’t be done with Roseanne, which needs a bit more weight to her inevitable death.
The last few episodes of Season 10 focused on Roseanne’s addiction to pain pills, brought on by her knee troubles. Dan convinces her to get the knee surgery she badly needs, and all is well. But that really only glosses over her addiction, which can’t be solved by simply having a surgery. It’s one big way that Season 10 really screwed up, and they can make it right by having Roseanne’s addiction be the way she dies.
Next: How Becky can be brought back
Becky as the new Aunt Jackie
The original series rarely brought Becky and Darlene together. The pair were constantly fighting, with Becky representing the popular older sister and Darlene the moody middle child. But in a few brief moments, Becky and Darlene were paired up in a meaningful way as adults in Season 10. For a spinoff to have success, we’re going to need more of that.
Darlene is now the mother of two kids that are tough to handle, with Harris mirroring her mother’s obstinance and Mark’s inevitable tough adolescence due to his gender fluidity. Becky is the single one, having lost Mark years earlier and never having children of her own. Creating a “Becky as the new Aunt Jackie” situation with Darlene and her kids is perfect for the new show.
Next: One thing they can’t write out
Back in the family house
One thing that absolutely cannot be written out for a new sitcom is the family home in Lanford. The setting is extremely important, almost as if it’s a character of its own. Removing Roseanne Conner from the show would be hard enough, but taking the characters to a new location? Impossible to overcome. We need the kitchen, the living room, and the familiar couch.
And that shouldn’t be too tough to accomplish. After all, Darlene had moved into the home with Dan and Roseanne after losing her job in Chicago. Why would she and the kids move out and leave her father all alone after losing his wife? Their presence in the house makes even more sense now.
Next: It’s always politics.
Less 2018 politics, more social commentary
The return of Roseanne was controversial, because it wasn’t afraid to tackle uncomfortable political topics. To be fair, Season 10 of Roseanne wasn’t always political. There were a lot of episodes that focused on family topics, and it was done well. But Roseanne Barr is a Trump supporter, and that was carried into her character on the show. It made for some laughs, but other times the overtly political dialogue felt distracting from meaningful plot points.
Roseanne made a name for itself as a show in the 1990s for being unafraid of social commentary. That came out in discussions about abortion, sexuality, poverty, and yes, even race. If a Roseanne spinoff is to be an homage to the remaining characters and the original show, less 2018-style politics and more nuanced social commentary would be appreciated.
Next: Still, some may not watch
Some probably will lose interest
Anyone that thinks a Roseanne spinoff could be just as popular as Roseanne was is fooling themselves. The reboot of the original series was extremely popular, and there’s a reason why it ran for nine seasons in the first place. Despite what people think of Roseanne Barr as a human being, people really liked Roseanne.
According to a poll done by 92.9 The Bull, a country radio station, around 70% of voters had said they wouldn’t be interested in watching the show without Roseanne. However, given how one vote changes the percentages, it appears that the sample size is small. So we likely won’t know how successful a Roseanne spinoff could be until it actually happens.
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