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ABC Roseanne Show Without Roseanne Bar
In what feels like a saga that will never end, the Roseanne cast members’ fates are still up in the air. Entertainment Weekly is now reporting that insiders connected to the show have been in discussions about whether ABC could construct a new show around John Goodman, Laurie Metcalf, and friends. The decision would be a good financial move: Carsey-Werner, the company that produces Roseanne, is still responsible for the contracts that were optioned from the cast. ABC, who ordered another season, is responsible for cancellation fees. In short, there’s a lot of money on the table.
The problem with all of that is Roseanne is co-created by Roseanne Barr. Using those characters and stories will still benefit her financially, reversing the stance ABC president Channing Dungey has taken. The only way around that is a new show, which could potentially scramble the world of Roseanne in a way that’s different enough from the original series that it’s not copyright infringement.
To be blunt, that approach feels cheap, but if the team at ABC were going to go for it, taking a page out of the original series finale isn’t the worst idea. Dan, um, John Goodman’s character could star as a writer who’s reimagining his own life as a single fictional father. Laurie Metcalf could be the lesbian she was meant to play. The writing teams could easily come up with something in the vain of Roseanne. If they got crazy, they could go full-CBS and replace her with Leah Remini.
But, of course—and bear with me here—there’s always the idea of writing something original. Yes, reboots are having quite a moment right now, but eventually, we’re going to run out of beloved television programs (and the problematic star vehicles that cause them to be cancelled).
The best thing that ABC could do is cut their losses. While a $250,000 per episode salary is huge to us, it’s Hollywood pennies. In Roseanne’s stead, create a show that speaks to the audience that this reboot resonated so clearly with. Pay attention to the stories of people that flocked to Roseanne and help write their story in a realistic way that may be as layered and complicated as the reboot’s writers hoped Roseanne would be. Hell, just go back and tell half the stories this season tried to tackle and do it in a way that doesn’t feel so painfully contrived.
Roseanne wasn’t remedying a nation of its problems. And though Goodman and Metcalf are incredible actors, they weren’t either. Take the opportunity to employ the actors under contract, put them in shows that tell a thoughtful story, but for the sake of all of us, let the story be an original idea for once.