|Roseanne Harris Conner|
|First appearance||"Life and Stuff"|
|Last appearance||"Knee Deep"|
|Created by||Roseanne Barr|
Michael Fishman (young)
Al Harris (father; deceased)|
Beverly Harris (mother)
Jackie Harris (sister)
Mary (grandmother; deceased)
Darlene Conner Healy
David Jacob "DJ" Conner
Jerry Garcia Conner
Roseanne Conner (née Harris) is the eponymous main character of Roseanne, played by Roseanne Barr. Roseanne, in a takeoff of her stand-up comedic and presumed real-life persona, is a bossy, loud, caustic, overweight, and dominant woman. She constantly tries to control the lives of her sister, husband, children, co-workers, and friends. Despite her dominating nature, Roseanne is a loving mother who works hard and makes as much time for her kids as possible.
Creation and conception
In 1987, coming up with ideas for new shows, Marcy Carsey and Tom Werner of Carsey-Werner Productions decided to look into the concept of the working mother as a central voice. Up until that point, there had been shows with working mothers, but only as an adjunct to the father in the family. Werner had suggested that they take a chance on Barr whom they had seen on The Tonight Show. This was because he saw the unique "in your face" voice that they were looking for, and he contacted her agent and offered her the role. Barr's act at the time was the persona of the "domestic goddess", but as Carsey and Werner explains, she had the distinctive voice and attitude for the character and she was able to transform her into the working class heroine they envisioned. Barr immediately took the role. Barr has stated she had crafted the "fierce working-class domestic goddess" persona in the eight years preceding the sitcom and wanted to do a realistic show about a strong mother who was not a victim of patriarchal consumerism.
Barr became outraged when she watched the first episode of Roseanne and noticed that Matt Williams was listed as creator in the credits. She told Tanner Stransky of Entertainment Weekly, "We built the show around my actual life and my kids. The 'domestic goddess', the whole thing". In the same interview, Werner said, "I don't think Roseanne, to this day, understands that this is something legislated by the Writers Guild, and it's part of what every show has to deal with. They're the final arbiters." During the first season, Barr sought more creative control over her character, opposing Williams' authority. Barr refused to say certain lines and eventually walked off set. She threatened to quit the show if Williams did not leave. ABC let Williams go after the thirteenth episode.
Roseanne Conner is a lifelong resident of Lanford, a fictional medium-sized city in Illinois. She and her younger sister Jackie are the daughters of Beverly and Al Harris. Roseanne married her high school sweetheart Dan Conner and, when the series begins, they have three children: Becky, Darlene and David Jacob ("D.J."); a fourth child, Jerry Garcia, is born late in the series. She and her family deal with the many hardships of poverty, obesity, and domestic troubles with humor.
Roseanne is a line worker at Wellman Plastics, along with her sister Jackie and friend Crystal. Roseanne's parents, Beverly and Al, consider moving to Lanford, but eventually decide against it. She also deals with Tomboy Darlene struggling with her femininity as she enters puberty and gets her first period, and Becky's dating problems with her first boyfriend Chip. Season one also finds the Conners experiencing, and surviving, a tornado. In the "Death and Stuff" episode a door-to-door salesman dies in the Conners' kitchen, and in the season finale, Roseanne stands up to a new foreman, when she leads Jackie, Crystal, and other coworkers as they quit Wellman Plastics.
Now that they've quit Wellman Plastics, Roseanne and Jackie must find new jobs. Jackie decides to become a police officer. Roseanne cycles through a variety of menial jobs including telemarketer, secretary for Dan's boss, bartender, cashier at a fast-food restaurant, and, finally, sweeping floors at a beauty parlor. At home, Dan's poker buddy Arnie plants a passionate kiss on Roseanne. The Conners celebrate an outrageous Halloween that becomes an annual feature of the series. Roseanne wants 10 minutes to herself in the bathroom; this turns into a bizarre dream sequence which has the entire cast singing parodies of songs from musical comedies. Later, Becky repeatedly rebels against Roseanne and Dan's parental authority. The reappearance of old biker buddy Ziggy reminds Roseanne and Dan of their own rebellious past. Darlene first proves her talent for writing when she wins recognition for her poetry. Roseanne's own writing talents are given a boost when her family fixes up a basement room to serve as a writer's den. This is the first season where we hear Roseanne thinking out loud.
The season opens with the Roseanne confronting the issue of pregnancy: She takes a pregnancy test that turns up negative. Roseanne takes on a job as waitress in the restaurant at Rodbell's Department Store, where she meets Leon and Bonnie. Later she locks horns with snooty new neighbor Kathy. In the season finale, Ziggy reappears, proposing to open a motorcycle repair shop with Dan and Roseanne. While they are in the process of getting the business off the ground, Ziggy decides to leave because he doesn't want to feel responsible if the business fails. However, he leaves enough money for Dan to open it by himself.
The season starts with Becky surprising Roseanne by asking for birth-control pills. Roseanne and Dan begin their new motorcycle repair shop business, Lanford Custom Cycle, while Roseanne continues to work at Rodbell's Department Store. Roseanne must deal with Darlene who has gone through a personality shift into a sullen goth teen. Later Roseanne gets breast reduction surgery due to back problems straining from her breast size. At the end of the season, Roseanne and the Conner's face problems as Lanford Custom Cycle fails, and Rodbell's Luncheonette closes.
After the bike shop closes, Roseanne and Jackie each get a check for $10,000 from their mother after she and their father divorce. They, along with Nancy, decide to open a diner but can only get the money they need after Bev agrees to become a partner as well. Roseanne discovers Becky has eloped with her boyfriend Mark. Jackie gets involved with a man who Roseanne and Dan learn is physically abusive and breaks it off with their help. Her and Roseanne's father dies, and Roseanne confronts his longtime secret mistress. Roseanne's rich, estranged cousin Ronnie visits and persuades Darlene to get her GED and apply to art school. Darlene asks her parents if David can move in, because his mother is moving away and they want to stay together. Roseanne and Dan initially refuse, but when Roseanne sees David's mother being verbally and emotionally abusive, she decides to let him stay because it reminded her of her own troubled childhood with her equally abusive father. Roseanne learns Darlene got an acceptance letter from the art school while David got rejected. At the end of the season, Roseanne fears Darlene will run away to school, although Darlene has already decided not to go. Realizing she was wrong, Roseanne persuades Darlene to not give up on her goals just to stay with David.
Under pressure from Roseanne to leave the Lanford Lunch Box, Bev sells her share in the restaurant to Leon to get back at them. Dan and Roseanne discover an old stash of marijuana and smoke it in their bathroom. Roseanne's past as an abuse victim arises when she reacts violently to DJ after he joyrides and wrecks her car. Becky and Mark return home and move into the Conners' house. Roseanne, and Dan discover David has secretly moved in with Darlene at school. Roseanne visits a gay bar with Nancy, where she receives a surprise kiss from Nancy's girlfriend. At the end of the season Roseanne attends Jackie's wedding.
Season seven begins with Roseanne's unexpected pregnancy. She battles much drama this season as she tries to get Darlene and David back together.
Season eight addresses Roseanne's baby shower and the subsequent arrival of her son, Jerry Garcia Conner. (In a continuity error, the baby had been revealed to be a girl in season seven. Roseanne Barr explained: although originally the show baby was going to be a girl, she subsequently got pregnant in real life and, when they discovered it was going to be a boy, they changed the show baby to a boy.) The season starts when Dan decides to leave the security of his city job to help build the new prison being constructed outside of Lanford. With the pension, final check, and retirement money he receives for leaving his job he decides to give his family the vacation they never had and takes everyone to Walt Disney World. season climaxes with a very rushed wedding for Darlene. Immediately after the ceremony, realizing how much has been changing, Dan suffers a heart attack. In the next episode it is revealed that he survives, as DJ saved his life. The season concludes with Dan and Roseanne having a bitter fight after Dan refuses to stick to his diet and exercise plan, rehashing many of the buried personality clashes of the entire series. They end up wrecking their living room in the process. The credits fade as Roseanne walks out on Dan. Other subjects are DJ's Thanksgiving pageant, Darlene's wedding, and Dan's heart attack.
Roseanne wins the state lottery jackpot of $108 million; This allows her and her family to live the high life. In the season's final episode, Roseanne reveals the entire series itself is actually a story written by Roseanne Conner about her life. To cope, Roseanne twisted major elements of her life for the story, which the audience does not discover until the final moments of the series. In reality, Dan's heart attack near the end of Season 8 was fatal and the Conner family did not win the lottery. Also, Jackie is a lesbian and Beverly is straight. Scott is a probate lawyer that Roseanne befriended, and set up with Leon—who she claims isn't very hip like she wrote him to be.
Roseanne Conner has been greatly received. In 2009, she was listed in the Top 5 Classic TV Moms by Film.com. In June 2010, Entertainment Weekly named Roseanne one of the 100 Greatest Characters of the Last 20 Years. In May 2012, she was one of the 12 moms chosen by users of iVillage on their list of "Mommy Dearest: The TV Moms You Love". AOL named her the 11th Most Memorable Female TV Character. In May 2015, BuzzFeed posted the article 26 Times Roseanne Was The Funniest TV Mom. The relationship between Roseanne and Dan Conner has received praise. An article in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune called their relationship realistic, commenting that while they mock each other, viewers can feel their love while they deal with the kinds of problems real families face. For her role as Roseanne, Barr won an Emmy, a Golden Globe, a Kids Choice Award, and three American Comedy Awards.
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