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In the 1980s, a show was in development called "Life And Stuff" created by Matthew Williams. It was later transformed into "Roseanne" after Roseanne became the star of the show. It is about a group of people living in northern Illinois, in an area of the United States that few would ever want to live in. It gets very cold there, and it is very isolated. It is loosely based on the 1980s economic struggle for a working class region made of small towns where most jobs are at factories. The city of Lanford Illinois (with snapshots from Indiana towns) is fictionally located just off a highway with very little promises. It begins with a struggling family and community that slowly overcomes many things and achieve moderate success.
The house they live in is spacious, generally clean, but tacky, with not only carpets, but dirty carpets, dirty furniture, and usually dated appliances (eventually getting more, such as a portable dishwasher). The converted sun porch housing a laundry room realistically describes many houses with additions. There is a detached garage. There are two bedrooms upstairs and an unfinished basement with an added room. You can get to the basement from a door opposite the wall with the thermostats on them. You almost never see this door except for the opening segments. Most of the time the people entering and exiting the basement are seen going outside or coming inside. The master bedroom has a ceiling fan. Jackie at first rents upstairs single room apartments and then living with her sister or mother before purchasing a slightly smaller house (single story but with a basement).The neighbor's house is identical in design except for newer appliances and built in shelves. Roseanne complains when she sees the shelves at the house and also being installed at Jackie's new house, asking Dan why he has never installed shelves like that (although her house does in fact have these shelves).
Dan Conner is an independent construction contractor. He purchases a motorcycle business, but it fails, and becomes a supervising mechanic for the City Of Lanford. Roseanne is a factory employee, walking out after refusing to meet unachievable quotas. She tries several jobs until working as a beauty parlor assistant. There is an extra position at a restaurant that she takes, until it is closed down. They face poverty until they open up their own restaurant. Jackie has numerous jobs including walking out of the same factory, and becoming a police officer, and then a truck driver.
Here is some more information about more of the characters. A lot of the characters are included, but not all of them because there are too many of them:
Roseanne Harris Conner: Played by Roseanne Barr Pentland Arnold Thomas, is the mother of three children, and later four, which is common of family situation comedies to have families have more children in the middle of the series run where the parents are middle age. The actors on Roseanne were pregnant and this was written into the show. Their children did not make appearances. Roseanne Conner married Dan Conner, which both of them went to the same school. She is thankful to have a very supportive husband. She had a traumatic childhood with two unsupportive parents which is a method that she promises not to use that severe level of punishment on her children.
Dan Conner (John Goodman) is Roseanne's husband. He had a similar childhood. His mother had severe depression and memory problems which results in her being institutionalized for many of the seasons. Dan blames this on his father not being around. Both of their fathers were traveling salesmen.
Jackie Harris is not sure what her real name is, it could be Jackie, or it could be Marjorie, or it could be Mary Jane. She is played by Laurie Metcalf. She has problems in selecting a career (but is not that apparent since she has the same amount of careers as other characters) She is a business partner and employee at The Lanford Lunch Box. She also has very difficult relationships with men. Jackie claims to have slept with over 60 men, and her mother claims that the list of men around that she hasn't slept with is much shorter. Roseanne says that Jackie later became gay after many dates, relationships, some abusive, and a failed marriage. It is also possible that her father's torture on them resulted in a fear of men.
Fred (Michael O'Keefe) is Jackie's husband and father of her first child. They have a boy named Andy. Jackie does not trust Fred, but Fred insists on being a part of their lives. They later find themselves incompatible with each other, and separate. Fred's last name is not known.
Crystal Anderson Conner (Natalie West) is a good friend of Roseanne that becomes in-laws to Jackie and Roseanne and stepmother to Dan. She has 3 children, 2 with Ed.
Ed Connor Sr. (Ned Beatty) is the father of Dan, who later married Crystal. They have two children together, a boy and a girl. Dan's worries are confirmed when Ed is "working" and is not around while Crystal manages by herself.
Dan's mother is played by Ann Wedgeworth and Debbie Reynolds.
Darlene Conner Healey (Sara Gilbert) has hair that is "wild and out of control" that played basketball, but quit after experiencing teenage depression. She is an author, just like her mother, and goes to a writing institute and also writes comics, usually dark-themed. She became an animal activist and a vegetarian, which affects The Lunch Box. She falls in love with a guy and they have a daughter together (Harris) who is a premature baby that almost dies.
Johnny Galecki plays the part of a guy that becomes Darlene's boyfriend. He is introduced as Kevin, but later as David. (his intended name was David, but at the time Galecki was in another show as David.) David is explained as a false name that Darlene forces him to use. David has very little in common with his parents, and finds a new home with the Conners. He shares a room wit D.J., because he is not to sleep in the same room with Darlene until they became married. David works at a pizzeria, and is a very talented artist that has to turn down a tour of Europe, and wants to attend an overcrowded art school run by a Disney style "Hans The Hare" theme park. He is a illustrator for Darlene. He appears to be very innocent but is not liked by Dan because he thought that David was looking down at him.
Becky Conner Healey ends school early, does not go to college immediately, instead, Mark unfortunately gets laid off because Lanford Custom Cycle closed; he moves, and Becky responds by marrying him and running away with him. She is portrayed by Alicia (Lecy) Goranson, but Goranson attends a university herself, making it difficult for her to play the part of Becky. Later she is replaced by Sarah Chalke. She is younger than Gilbert and unlike Goranson, Chalke always has the same hairstyle. Sara Chalke starred in the better part of two seasons (beginning in season 6) an then alternating with Lecy Goranson in Season 8. She also plays other characters. In season 9 she takes over as Becky because Roseanne was not expected to be renewed for a 9th season and Goranson did not return after that. She is pregnant at the end of the series.
Mark Healey (Glenn Quinn) is the less respectable Healey brother. Dan Conner hires him to work at his bike shop and later at the Lanford Garage. He is hiding low self esteem and a low outlook on life. Roseanne does not like him very much. He enjoys teaming up with D.J. to pick on David.
David Jacob or D.J. Conner was played by Sal Barone. Being too young, and the possibility of himself and Sara Gilbert not getting along, he was replaced by Michael Fishman (who appears to be younger than Sal Barone) D.J. Is an odd ball, and is being tortured by his older sister, especially by Darlene.
Heather Matarazzo becomes D.J.'s girlfriend when he became older. She and D.J. films things.
Nancy Bartlett (Sandra Bernhard) is anoter good friend of Roseanne. She and Arnie fight with each other, which they find attractive at the same time. They get married, but then they break up. She later becomes bisexual which is blamed on Arnie. She opens a small restaurant with Roseanne and Jackie.
Arnie Thomas is played by Tom Arnold. He was abducted by aliens because Tom Arnold got is own show "The Jackie Thomas Show." which The Conners become guest stars on, and then take over the show because they want free prizes.
Beverly Loraine Harris "Non-Alcoholic-Beverage" (Estelle Parsons) is the neglectful mother of Roseanne and Jackie that eventually becomes cheerful but annoying. She cuts her hair short enough to where Jackie and Roseanne believe she is wearing a wig. She grows it back out for the last 3 seasons, but she wore hats during that time until near the 8th season Finale. She provides for her daughters: When she gets new furniture, she gives them her old furniture, she gives tem her old vehicles when she buys new ones, she helps Roseanne with her bills, helps Jackie pay for a house, gives them even more money to fund the restaurant by becoming their fourth business partner. They want her to not work there after one year, so she sold her share to Leon. She becomes a lesbian, but Roseanne says she really isn't. Beverly does not know who her father is.
Al Harris (John Randolph) is Roseanne and Jackie's father. She has seen anoter woman. When he died, Roseanne decides the best thing to do is forget him and all the terrible things he did when raising them.
Mary "Nanna Mary" (Shelley Winters) is Roseanne's grandmother. Her last name is not known. She lives outside of town.
Art is an accountant played by Dan Butler who starts out as a potential customer at Lanford Custom Cycle. He advised them on other things such as whether or not to add a tattoo parlor. He and Jackie briefly dated.
Stan Freberg plays the part of a manager that got fired over and over again as a result of The Conners.
Anne Marie Mitchell (Adilah Barnes) and Chuck Mitchell (James Pickens, Jr.) are friends of Dan and Roseanne.
Bob (John McConnell), whose last name is also unknown, works at The Lanford City Garage. He is a substitute character for Arnie's wackiness.
Leon Carp (Martin Mull) was Roseanne's boss at one time, and then got a job as a health inspector. He inspected The Lanford Lunch Box, and a year later starts working there after being chosen by Beverage to replace her, and wants to take over entirely. He got married to Scott (Fred Willard) later in the show. Martin Mull and Fred Willard are known for co-starring in different shows together. When they aren't, they usually play similar characters, such a school principals.
Bonnie L. Watkins is Roseanne's coworker. They have worked during the same shift together. She leaves the series after the restaurant closes down. She does not join Roseanne, Jackie, Nancy, and Beverage when they start another restaurant. Instead she tour the country with her band, sometimes with very small audiences. She is portrayed by Andrea Walters, an later by singer and performer Bonnie (Sheriden) Bramlett.
There are several neighbors. A Shelley Long look-alike is one of them, who is very uptight. Employment issues and Katy's unhappiness leads to them moving. The new neighbor is a single parent named Ty Tilden (Wings Houser) with daughters Molly (Danielle Harris) and Charlotte (Mara Hobel). These two daughters are similar to Becky and Darlene, and are almost identical younger versions of Roseanne and Jackie. The Tildens and The Conners all travel together in a "toilet" with Jackie and Ty driving. Jackie surprisingly does not seem to be interested in Ty.
Cole Roberts stars a Jerry Garcia Conner and Garrett Hazen and Kent Hazen are stars of Andy. Lonnie Anderson is portrayed by Luke Edwards, Kristopher Kent Hill, and John C. Williams. George Clooney is a guest star in the earlier episodes.
Laurie Metcalf and Sara Gilbert co-star with Johnny Galecki in "The Big Bang Theory", on CBS. "Roseanne" aired on ABC, which is a subsidiary of Disney. The issues that The Conners face on Roseanne do not match Disney or ABC programming. This is made known by adding hilarious segments with a network executive meeting with Roseanne saying to not mention "inappropriate" phrases. He says that it will never make it to production. This person does not know that the meeting is being filmed the entire time. One episode presents "That's Our Rosie!", filmed in "black and white" to compare Roseanne with early television programming. Guest appearances include Loretta Lynn as herself, and Florence Henderson and Ellen Degeneres.