Roseanne Barr’s seminal sitcom, Roseanne, about a working-class family in Illinois, was routinely praised for opinionated, sometimes politically incorrect conversations that were almost as unapologetic as the titular domestic goddess was off-screen. Now, as ABC prepares for its revival of the series, which premieres March 27, Barr and other returning cast members shared their thoughts on pretty much everything the Television Critics Association dared to ask during a gathering at the Langham Huntington Hotel in Pasadena, Calif., Monday evening. Here are some of the things we learned:
Contrary to how the series’ initial run ended, John Goodman’s patriarch Dan Conner is very much alive.
In fact, this matter is resolved in the opening scene of the revival.
“I thought it was a clever way to do it and get it out of the way,” Goodman says.
“In the original series, I always wanted to have a tenth year so that I could do exactly what I did with these nine [episodes] to finish and complete the story of this family,” Barr says. “I’m very happy that we got a tenth season.”
She explains that the—for lack of a better term—death fake-out was seeded since the early days of the original.
“In the third episode of Roseanne, Dan builds Roseanne a writing room,” she says. “Roseanne is a writer, and I think that’s what I always wanted to do. That was always what I wanted to do.”
Other things learned in the first episode: Roseanne the character voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election.
“In the Roseanne show, I’ve always had it tend to be a true reflection of the society we live in,” Barr says. “I feel like half [the] people voted for Trump and half didn’t. It’s just realistic.”
Michael Fishman, who played youngest child DJ and is back for the revival as a now-grown man with a black wife and a biracial child, defended the decision by saying he loves “the fact that this show and these people, in so many ways, taught me to be open-minded and taught me to be socially aware.”
This shouldn’t be much of a surprise, as Barr has been known to publically support the president.
During the panel, Barr said that the main reason she couldn’t vote for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election was “because of Haiti” and that her children have taken away her Twitter access. She stresses that she didn’t want her own political personality “to overshadow the show.”
“This is a time, as we all know, where our country is very divided,” says Sara Gilbert, who plays middle child Darlene in both iterations of the show and is an executive producer of the new version. “We did have a wonderful opportunity to talk about this in the context of family. I think what’s going on is, people feel like they can’t disagree and still love each other or still talk to each other. To me, it was a great opportunity to have a family that can be divided by politics and still is filled with love.’
Barr believes she’d be a better president that Trump.
“I do love Oprah. Of course I love Oprah, like everybody else. But you know what? I think it was time for us as a country to shake things up and, you know, try something different… Actually, I think I’d be a better president than Oprah and Susan Sarandon, probably even President Trump. And I did run in 2012.”
We do not know, however, how (or if) Dan Conner voted.
“I don’t think Dan voted,” executive producer Bruce Helford says.
The original show does have other themes that have carried through.
“As people know, this is a show about female empowerment and people speaking their minds,” says executive producer Tom Werner. “It was very important for us to come back and honor that and we felt like the bar was high… We’re extremely proud of the fact that we’re dealing with relevant issues now that were just like the issues we were dealing with before [like] opioids and an aging parent and health care. We felt like the bar was high, but it was our duty to honor the original show and make nine or 10 episodes that would make the audience feel a little nostalgia and also feel fresh.”
Both Lecy Goranson and Sarah Chalke, who each at one point played eldest Conner child Becky, are returning.
Goranson will play Becky, and Chalke will play Andrea, the woman Becky hires as her surrogate.
“They’re showing solidarity between us even though our characters aren’t very similar,” Goranson says. “The writers orchestrated it in a really cool way.”
Also worked into the show: Becky is a widow.
The producers said they chose to do this because Glenn Quinn, who played Becky’s husband in the original show, did pass away.
“When you have a show that’s so naturalistic, you have to do deal with that,” says Helford. “He comes up a couple times in the course of the nine episodes. Like the death of Dan, there are little clues that go along that explain certain things.”
“We all missed Glenn so much because he was such a great part of the show,” Barr says, with Gilbert adding that “it allows us to pay tribute to him.”
Some other characters will be returning. Others, they’ll need a second season to work in.
Johnny Galecki, Estelle Parsons, Sandra Bernhard, James Pickens Jr., Natalie West and Adilah Barnes are all back. As to when each will be back? Gilbert jokes that, for Galecki, we’ll need to check the now-Big Bang Theory star’s Instagram.