Potential Roseanne spin-off to be based on Darlene, but her kids Harris and Mark are definitely the better choice
It has been quite the dramatic week, with ABC's highly popular and successful show Roseanne's reboot getting canceled - a news that devasted both people involved in the show and fans alike. The decision was made post lead actor Roseanne Barr's extremely racist tweet against former Obama advisor, Valerie Jett. But luckily for fans, a revival of the show seems to be on the cards! Reports suggest it's going to be based on Roseanne Conner's middle child, Darlene; but is that the wise choice?
Darlene Conner-Healy, played by Sara Gilbert, much like the lead character and her mother, Roseanne, is a sassy, sarcastic woman. Her past entails a failed marriage with David Healy (Johnny Galecki) and in the Roseanne reboot, she is seen raising two kids - Harris (Emma Kenney) and Mark (Ames McNamara). Which raises the very obvious question: Won't a spin-off based on the two grandkids of Roseanne be a better decision, rather than basing it on her single daughter?
True, Darlene Conner has never been the quintessential girlie girl like her sister Becky. Darlene has been portrayed as an artistic, tomboyish, intelligent girl who is slightly on the rougher side of things. She grew up to be no different either. In simpler terms, she can be quite the bossy woman, making her an easy go-to choice to consider a spin-off based on.
But how much more can one dwell on the plot of the talented writer slash single mother whose life was showcased with extreme details even in the reboot that came along as Season 10? What more is left to show?
Viewers have been through Darlene's tumultous past quite a lot. Her insanely moody side was shown in her high school years and her talent was explored by allowing her an early scholarship at an exclusive art school in Chicago. The credibility of her potential to become the successful writer that her mother, Roseanne, wanted to be was proven by how she is ultimately allowed.
The relationship aspect was also amply explored with her very confusing love triangle. She starts off with David, a budding graphic artist, with whom she decides to collaborate on a graphic novel. But her domineering nature gets the best of their relationship. She bosses David around and the poor guy keeps giving in every single time until she had to move away for college and a bigger drama ensued.
Darlene begins dating a guy called Jimmy without breaking up with David. David seems to know about it all along and finally gives her an ultimatum where she has to choose between the two. Eventually, as chance and circumstance would have it, Darlene realizes she is still in love with David and the two reconcile, eventually to get pregnant with their first child.
The next up on Darlene's plot is a difficult childbirth as her first child, Harris, was born three months premature, leading to a battle for her survival. That subplot is explored too with the parents deciding to allow the baby a chance to "experience life without being hooked up to all those machines" and luckily Harris pulls through.
But here comes the extremely confusing bit about Darlene that the original Roseanne's season finale had ended with: it is revealed that Darlene had apparently been dating Mark all along but in Roseanne's book it was mentioned as David as she considered it made more sense. Yet in the Season 10 reboot, that plot is completely retconned so as of now, Darlene is separated from David.
Season 10 returns with Darlene having recently lost her job at publishing, which forced her to move from Chicago back to Lanford to move into her childhood home and live with her parents. It seems to have come to a full circle if one takes the idea of stereotypical sitcoms into consideration.
Yes, there could be certain romances on the cards or perhaps another shot at making it as a successful writer but other than that, Darlene has been so vastly explored and showcased that it doesn't quite make sense to grind that character any further. It's more of turning the lemon bitter by over squeezing it, situation. The creators should just let her be right now.
While her kids, on the other hand, are such promising characters to start exploring!
There's Harris on one side - the angsty adolescent who hates their move from Chicago to a small town and has angry outbursts at their mother. But much like her mother and grandmother, she sassy and sarcastic - and a spitting image too! The resentful and hostile Harris tries to act indifferent to the needs of her family but then gets caught trying to sell shoplifted clothes on Etsy so she can save money to move back to Chicago.
But speaking of being the spitting image of Darlene, perhaps that is the cue the showrunners should pick up on. Actress Emma Kenney had told Entertainment Tonight: "It's so cool! And I love it. It's like, it's insane how uncanny our resemblance is. Not only do we look the same but I remember — I noticed it at the first table read and every table read … Everybody else was holding a script on the table just flat, and Sara and I were both holding it folded over, so we were the only ones holding it.”
So maybe explore Harris as a carbon copy of Darlene? Maybe she is finally able to move back to Chicago and establish herself beyond the angsty-teenager that she is right now? Sure, considering how brilliantly Kenney plays the role, fans would love to see the teenager Harris a little longer, and why shouldn't she - she claimed she picks a zodiac sign before she starts to play her character.
“I pick a sign for a character that I go out for,” she said on Good Morning America. “Harris is a Gemini, but I play her with a Taurus ascendant because she’s stubborn.” So sure, the stubbornness isn't going away but she still has potential to be indulged in. She could channel all that frustration and resentment into arts much like her mother did and thus the spin-off's plot could be explored.
And even if it's not Harris, her brother Mark surely holds some major potential at being considered for a spin-off. Twenty years later, in the Season 10 reboot, Roseanne's beliefs and ideas might seem quite conservative, but not Mark's. The 10-year-old is an effeminate boy who likes to indulge in makeup and girls' dresses. He is Roseanne's gender non-conforming grandson and it is easy to conclude that so far, such characters have only been explored as the lead's sidekick.
Basing the spin-off on what happens next with Mark could be a refreshing take on things. Whether McNamara would be a good fit to continue with the role is debatable, but if it's based on current time, he sure has a grasp of what the character holds.
In a chat with Good Morning America, he shared: “Mark’s just a normal kid. He likes to do art, he likes playing basketball, and wearing girls’ clothes is just a small part of Mark.” So does Mark continue being a normal kid or do his grandparents' concerns about his interests force him to grow up to be a troubled teen, struggling to find his place in the world?
In other possibilities, he could also be shown to have not given any second thoughts and evolved into a sassy, confident young man, who has embraced his passions. There's ample opportunity to explore this character without stereotyping him too, which the reboot should seize, instead of just resorting to dragging on Darlene's story because if anything, the show needs a striking comeback that would erase the horrors of its past and give it a brand new refreshing start.