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The show is centered on the Conners, a loving but imperfect American working-class family struggling to get by on a limited household income in the fictional town of Lanford, Illinois. Lanford was nominally located in Fulton County, but other on-air references over the years suggest the town is in the vicinity of Aurora, Elgin, and DeKalb, which are much closer to Chicago. The family consisted of outspoken Roseanne, married to her easygoing and loving husband, Dan, and their three children; the overachieving but rebellious Becky, the sarcastic and artistic Darlene, and the simpleminded, childlike, and odd D.J.
Many critics considered the show notable as one of the first sitcoms to portray a realistic blue-collar American family with two parents working outside the home, as well as lead characters who were noticeably overweight without their weight being the target of jokes. For many years, Roseanne tackled provocative subjects and issues such as poverty, alcoholism, drug abuse, menstruation, birth control, teenage pregnancy, masturbation, obesity, abortion, race, social class, domestic violence, infidelity, and gay rights. The show was also significant for its portrayal of feminist ideals including a female-dominated household, a female lead whose likability did not rely on her appearance, relationships between female characters that were cooperative rather than competitive, and females openly expressing themselves without negative consequences.
- Roseanne Barr as Roseanne Harris-Connor
- John Goodman as Dan Connor
- Laurie Metcalf as Jackie Harris
- Sara Gilbert as Darlene Connor-Healy
- Michael Fishman as DJ Connor
- Lecy Goranson as Becky Connor
- Natalie West as Crystal Anerson Connor
- Sarah Chalke as Becky Connor and Andrea
- Johnny Galecki as David Healy
- Glenn Quinn as Mark Healy
- Martin Mull as Leon Carp
- Michael O'Keefe as Fred Oakland
- Sandra Bernhard as Nancy Barlett
- Emma Kenney as Harris Healy
- Ames McNamara as Mark Connor Healy
- Jayden Rey as Mary Conner
In 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 countless shows with working mothers, but few treated them as anything other than 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 herself into the working class heroine they envisioned. Many early scripts were written by women: Grace McKeaney, Lauren Eve Anderson, and Laurie Gelman, and directed by Ellen Gittelsohn.
Roseanne was successful from its beginning, ranking #1 in the Nielsen ratings its second season, becoming the most watched television program in the United States from 1989 to 1990, and spending its first six seasons among the Nielsen ratings' top five highest-rated shows; the finale attracted 16 million viewers.
Roseanne consistently ranked in the top four of the Nielsen for its first six seasons. The series reached #1 in its second season, becoming the most watched television show in the United States, narrowly beating out The Cosby Show. Ratings slowly started slipping after season six, though the show stayed within the top 10 through season seven, and the top 20 during season eight. It dropped to 35th place during the ninth and final season of its original run.
The premiere of season 10 set records for Nielsen's delayed viewing metrics; it was seen by 18.45 million live and same day viewers, but gained an additional 6.59 viewers via Live+3 metrics—the largest-ever increase in total viewership from three days of delayed viewing since the 2014 premiere of fellow ABC series How to Get Away with Murder. 2.2 million additional viewers were added over the following four days (totalling 27.26 million viewers overall), resulting in a net increase of 8.81 million viewers in the week since the premiere broadcast. This broke a record for the largest ratings gain from Live+7 viewership, previously set by the premiere of fellow ABC series The Good Doctor in September 2017.
Roseanne was put into off-network syndication beginning in September 1992.
TBS aired reruns of Roseanne from 1996 through 2004. Cable channel Nick at Nite aired reruns of the show from the fall of 2003 until 2009; it has since moved to TV Land's "TV Land Prime" schedule. Oxygen aired reruns for several years under the ownership of Carsey-Werner before its 2007 acquisition by NBCUniversal. The show returned to Nick at Nite's lineup on October 5, 2009, replacing Family Matters and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air in its late-night timeslot. As of January 2010, Nick at Nite has once again taken Roseanne from its time slot. In Australia, the show is seen on the channel 111 Hits and Eleven. In the UK, it aired in reruns on Channel 4.
WE tv and CMT both began airing the series in September 2012. The show also was carried by Nick at Nite/CMT sister network Logo TV, and over-the-air on Laff.
As of May 29, 2018, all cable channel (Hulu, Viacom an Laff) are ceased from the network and no longer for this series rerun.
- Roseanne on Fandom