Rumors have been swirling that ABC is considering a ‘Roseanne’ spinoff that would feature the entire cast except for the show’s controversial titular character.
A week after ABC shocked everyone by canceling TV’s #1 comedy, they may be considering a ‘Roseanne’ Spinoff.
But how would that work, exactly?
The network canceled the reboot of the 1990s sitcom after calling a tweet from star Roseanne Barr. That tweet, which has since been deleted but remains alive because of countless screen captures, read:
muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj
The comedienne later apologized for the tweet, calling it a “bad joke” and acknowledging it was “in bad taste.” Most people, particularly the many fans of the show, assumed that would be more than enough.
They were wrong.
ABC announced hours later that the show was canceled, and ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey called the tweet “abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values,” and said they had decided to cancel the reboot.
What about a ‘Plan B’?
Almost immediately after the announcement, fans started suggesting the network should try to continue the show, remove just Roseanne, and call it Dan, with the focus being on the character of her husband. But what would that hypothetical idea look like? Would Roseanne have to be killed off for that to work, or would she just be off somewhere else, never seen or heard from? And how long could that scenario actually work?
I’m reminded of the transition from All in the Family to Archie Bunker’s Place on CBS in 1979. At first, Carroll O’Connor and Jean Stapleton, as Archie and Edith Bunker, continued with the show as the focus shifted from the Bunker home at 704 Houser Street in Astoria, Queens to his bar.
Over time, Stapleton made it clear she intended to leave the show and it eventually became a problem: How can Edith just disappear and never be heard from again? The answer that no one, including series creator Norman Lear, wanted to discuss, was to allow Edith to die (off-camera) and allow Archie to start a new life as a widower.
O’Connor played a powerful scene addressing his wife’s death at the start of season 2, and the show completed 4 seasons before being canceled, so it’s possible for a show to carry on without a beloved character, even one as beloved as Edith Bunker.
When I wrote about the cancellation last week, I mentioned another show, this time on NBC, that also parted ways with its top star, Valerie, which became The Hogan Family, replacing Valerie Harper with Sandy Duncan.
The rumors suggest that daughter Darlene (played by Sarah Gilbert, one of the executive producers of the reboot), would be the focus of the show, not Dan Connor.
But the rumors also suggest that the entire cast, minus Barr, would be back, which implies that Dan would be back, too. So how do they explain the absence of Roseanne if her on-screen husband, Dan, is still around?
More than that, the bigger question is whether viewers who are fans of the old show would actually tolerate a spinoff featuring everyone but the single performer who put the program on the TV map.
It’s hard for me to imagine that they would.