In nine groundbreaking seasons, the brash blue-collar mom Roseanne Conner tackled taboos and took no guff from anyone on Roseanne — least of all her family. Now, as part of Entertainment Weekly’s 20th-anniversary Characters Issue, counting down the 100 greatest characters of the last two decades, Roseanne Barr shares with EW what her sitcom alter ego — and the rest of the Conner clan—would be up to in 2010. While some of what Barr muses about below may contradict what she’s previously stated in a personal blog post on the subject, we’d like to think what we have here, straight from Roseanne’s fingertips to this post, is the final say on the matter:
Roseanne wrote a book, and the rights to it were bought by Oprah and turned into a mildly successful reality show starring Jackée Harry. The show lasted two seasons, made millions for Harpo Studios, and relaunched Harry’s television career. Roseanne made enough money from that — and from selling her café and her house — to move to Hilo, Hawaii, where she opened a shop selling crystals, spiritual books, and DVDs. Her youngest son, Jerry Garcia Conner, runs it. They live upstairs from it in a large apartment next to the Center for the Church of Cannabis. She dates an old surfer named Johnny, who also manages the nightclub in the Hilo Hotel and plays jazz piano in a quartet with her son, who plays lead guitar.
Roseanne had a scare with her heart, takes Lipitor, and still halfheartedly tries one diet after another. She goes to a gym and pedals an exercise bike listlessly, ambles along on a treadmill, bored and dutiful, while chatting with whichever girlfriend talks her into meeting her there. She eats sorbet but looks around, as if someone is watching, and then douses it with chocolate syrup.
She got excited about running for Hilo town council for a while, but the reality of a full-blown campaign just seemed too demanding — what with all the showing up for appearances and kissing people’s butts that she wouldn’t even want to shake hands with. Today, she is getting more and more interested in joining the Church of Cannabis and launching her own anarchistic ministry called Seriously Revolting Women!
D.J. went off to Iraq in the Army. He totally bought into the dramatic, macho draft board commercials, thinking he’d be learning computer skills while driving a tank and climbing rope ladders and serving his country and seeing the world. He ended up getting his thumb ripped off somehow while guiding 55-gallon drums onto a rack in the blazing desert in Iraq. He got addicted to painkillers in the Army hospital. He works for a security firm that services C-list rock concerts in big bars in Illinois and Indiana. He’s still a lovable big kid at 39, but has a weakness for Vicodin and beer. He’s single. [D.J. is Roseanne Conner’s older son.]
Darlene drifted for a while and went to Europe after dropping in and out of school. She finally earned a doctorate in creative writing at the University of Arizona and now teaches gifted children at a private school. Her and David’s marriage has been on-again/off-again, but they had a son, Micah, who works in IT and attends videogame and comic-book conventions. David sold Amway, until that folded, and then acai berry juice, and nowadays he sells media time for a small radio station. [Darlene is Roseanne’s middle child and youngest daughter and married to David, who is Mark’s younger brother.]
After Mark died of a heroin overdose [Ed. note: The actor who played Mark, Glenn Quinn, died of a heroin overdose in December 2002], Becky’s second marriage is to a Republican type and she plays the role, somewhat, but is not quite convinced. Her husband is condescending, but they have a nice home, and Becky obviously figures it’s all worth it, kind of. When she has a few glasses of wine, she’s remorseful and wishes for something more passionate and vital in life, but the next day she invariably says it was the alcohol talking. [Becky is Roseanne’s oldest child and daughter and was married to Mark, who is David’s older brother.]
Jackie finally gave up on men after meeting Dana while working as a prison guard at the Carbondale Correctional Institution for Women. Dana was in for assault charges from a scuffle she got into during Al Gore’s presidential campaign. They’re involved in animal rescue when Dana’s not running her plumbing contracting business out of their garage. She’s supporting Jackie’s run at going back to college for a four-year degree. Jackie’s changed her major three times in two years. [Jackie is Roseanne’s only sister.]
Leon and Fred moved to San Francisco, opened a Starbucks, and adopted three Chinese daughters. [Leon and Fred are Roseanne’s gay-couple friends. She met Leon while working with him at the restaurant in Rodbell’s department store and later worked with him at her restaurant, Lanford Lunch Box.]
Nancy and Arnie got back together after Arnie’s sex change surgery, which was a relatively minor operation. [Nancy and Arnie are friends of Roseanne and Dan Conner.]
Crystal is a hostess at a Bavarian restaurant, and both her sons still live with her, one of whom is a survivalist and in a secret militia group that opposes Obama. [Crystal is a friend of Roseanne’s who worked at Wellman Plastics with her and Jackie, and eventually married Dan’s father.]
Bev works as a volunteer organizer for Sarah Palin’s election to the presidency in 2012. [Bev is Roseanne and Jackie’s mother.]
Dan was found to have faked his own death and lives quietly in Mexico, remarried to Olivia Newton-John’s ex-boyfriend’s sister, and earns a great living by deep-sea fishing. He built his own boat, finally, out of old Snapple bottles, hemp, and plastic six-pack rings. [Dan is Roseanne’s husband, who was revealed to have died of a heart attack in the series finale.]
For more on the 100 Greatest Characters of the past 20 years, including Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe on the other roles he’d have loved to play, Joss Whedon on the elements that make up Buffy the Vampire Slayer, an interview with Homer Simpson, and lots, lots more, pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly on stands May 28.
Tanner on Twitter: @EWTanStransky