The TV Show ‘Roseanne’ Was Based On My Family. The Offscreen Reality Was Very Different.

'They were lightweight, PG versions of us with no complicated backstories. Must be nice.'

Roseanne Barr, Roseanne

1/17/2022 5:00:00 PM

'They were lightweight, PG versions of us with no complicated backstories. Must be nice.'

'They were lightweight, PG versions of us with no complicated backstories. Must be nice.'

Becky and Darlene were amalgams of my sister, Jessica, and myself. D.J. was based on my little brother, Jake. Jackie was based on my mom’s sister Geraldine.As the seasons went on and what was actually happening in our lives was increasingly rated R, a lot of things were left out, and by the end of the series it looked like a parallel-reality version of what would have happened to us had the show never existed.

AdvertisementI loved that storyline. I loved that ending. It was perfect, although there is no way the show’s fan base could understand the importance of it.I resented Parallel Jenny’s simple life. I couldn’t watch the show without feeling angry, and then I couldn’t watch it because TV was not allowed in reform school. I didn’t see anything beyond the second season until I was 24 and a married housewife with a kid of my own, stuck at home and able to catch the reruns airing seemingly nonstop on Nickelodeon. It still made me sad sometimes to think about what I had missed, but I had a life I wanted now, and my pain was dull enough that I could enjoy the truly excellent joke writing. I made an effort to catch up.

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The TV Show 'Roseanne' Was Based On My Family. Here's What Was Happening Offscreen.'They were lightweight, PG versions of us with no complicated backstories. Must be nice.'

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