The series finale of Roseanne is one of the only truly shocking final episodes in sitcom history. The shows most indelible character Dan Conner, played by John Goodman, was revealed to have died from a heart attack. It was a bleak discordant ending to a show that often subverted tropes. But then came syndication and reruns garnering a significant viewership. Now, ABC execs have announced that Dan will be resurrected for the Roseanne reboot, which is part of a broader network-wide effort to monopolize weeknight family TV. ABC and John Goodman are aiming to get American families to put down the laptop and tune in together. And they just might succeed.
There’s a long history of sitcoms abandoning continuity in favor of restoring a ratings-driven status quo. Given that–and the amount of time that has passed–it’s not clear that ABC will even make an attempt to justify Dan’s existence. Whether Roseanne Barr, who has been granted a lot of freedom to pursue her vision, bother or not, it’s clear why there’s a demand to bring back the lovable oaf. Once it brings Roseanne back to television, ABC will have built the most impressive family sitcom lineup maybe ever. The network already has Modern Family, Fresh of the Boat, Blackish, the Middle, American Housewife, and Speechless on the air. Those shows are being rescheduled for upcoming seasons so that they are spread more evenly across the week.
The ultimate goal, though not stated outright by execs, seems to be the creation go-to network for American families. Nothing of that nature has existed for some time, but ABC’s shows are good enough that it’s a real possibility they could pull this thing off.
For much of television history, sitcoms revolved almost exclusively around families, as people could not get enough of the hilarious matrimonial antics of I Love Lucy and the sibling dynamics explored in shows like the Brady Bunch. Eventually, the success of Seinfeld and Friends made it so families took a backseat to co-workers, significant others, and attractive 30-somethings trying to find their way through life. In fact, the last time there has not been a network this family-centric with comedy since ABC with its legendary TGIF lineup in the 90s that included Full House and Family Matters. Almost 25 years later, ABC is once again betting on families and, so far, it seems to be paying off.