*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.
There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.
In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Roseanne and The Conners to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.
In the history of television, housewives have been portrayed as paragons of motherly and wifely virtue. Their houses and their appearances were magazine ready, their children are angels and their husbands came home to perfect families. Roseanne Conner (Roseanne Barr) broke that mold the moment she appeared on our television screens. She was brash, outspoken, far from modelesque and her family was imperfect.
Roseanne and her husband, Dan (John Goodman), have three kids. Becky (played by Alicia Goranson and then by Sarah Chalke), Darlene (Sara Gilbert), DJ (Michael Fishman) and Jerry Garcia Conner. In addition to her kids, Roseanne’s sister Jackie (Laurie Metcalf) is always stopping by.
The Conners are the average middle-class American family and Roseanne is the average middle-class American wife and mother. She and Dan are juggling their kids, their jobs, paying bills, keeping their marriage going, etc. Over the course of the original series, Roseanne has multiple jobs, a breast reduction, and a fourth child.
When the series returned, Roseanne was still Roseanne. But with a new twist. While dealing with knee pain, she has become addicted to the pain killers. It’s what kills her on-screen while her off-screen alter ego, Roseanne Barr became a persona non-grata after some rather unsavory comments made via her Twitter account.
To sum it up: in being real and representing real women, Roseanne Conner and the actor that played her changed the way that women are portrayed on television. Roseanne was imperfect, complicated and faced the same everyday situations that the viewers faced. It is that grounding in reality that makes her memorable and lovable.