Television and the world at large are on completely different wavelengths than they were when Roseanne was first on the air, and we can expect ABC’s big revival season to reflect some of those changes, even if the Conner family’s approach to dealing with them remains the same. (Read our review.) Showrunner Bruce Helford, who was also at Roseanne‘s helm for Season 5, talked about who how much faster the creative process came together this time around, as opposed to the original. And the reason? Roseanne Barr herself was around more. In Helford’s words:
She was so busy with everything going on and all the demands on her time, we had to second guess her [during the original]. You’d see her and you couldn’t get to her. . . . It’s been much faster [for the revival] to get her input, her take, and her understanding of blue collar people. Almost everybody here started out in their lives being broken and not having a whole lot, so everybody understands the reality and nobility of working-class people. Having her around really helps the process.
Bruce Helford took the showrunner job on Roseanne from 1992-1993 — he was one in a long line of ousted writers and producers during the sitcom’s nine-season run — and it makes sense that Roseanne Barr was being pulled in so many more directions at that time than in recent years. Roseanne spent its first six seasons as one of the Top 5 most-watched shows on TV, and the star’s fame extended far beyond the show itself. Who can forget her infamous national anthem performance or her roller coaster marriage with Tom Arnold? In any case, the comedian was a whirlwind of hubbub, which was apparently an obstacle when trying to craft storylines for the widely beloved show.
Skip ahead 25 years or so, and Bruce Helford is once again back in the showrunner position and overseeing a new season of Roseanne, with its outspoken star back as America’s blue-collar matriarch. And as Helford put it to EW, Roseanne Barr’s presence and availability has made the creative process more efficient and more likely to reflect Barr’s own comedic and political views than if she was only offering notes during later stages of production. Which is a great thing for all involved, since Helford also revealed the pressure to keep Roseanne‘s quality intact in the ’90s meant the writers were often plugging away until 2 a.m., trying to nail the honesty and the tone.
Which isn’t to say that putting Roseanne‘s revival season together has been a stress -free dream, considering the show now has to live up to an entire legacy, instead of just a previous season’s high marks. (Plus, the double-Becky debacle.) So here’s hoping Roseanne Barr’s input has been remarkable enough to take all the headaches away. And if it wasn’t, there’s always the plethora of medications that weren’t around when Roseanne was first on the air.
With a new opening theme and similarly crappy wallpaper, Roseanne makes its long-awaited return to ABC on Tuesday, March 27, with a pair of back-to-back episodes airing at 8:00 p.m. ET. Check out how filming the episodes also changed for the revival, and head to our midseason premiere schedule to see everything hitting primetime soon.