Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Roseanne, Bar None

When she first burst onto the scene in the late 1980s, courtesy of the era's comedy club boom, hers was a decidedly working class shtick; calling herself the 'domestic goddess' and dressed in schlumpy clothes, Roseanne Barr wowed the audience and host alike during her first appearance at The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and almost overnight, it seems, she had hit the big time...

PhotobucketAs sitcoms go Roseanne was unrepentantly working class, an ethos which was as evident in the wardrobe and set design as it was in the writing. The blend of family and workplace scenarios on the show was unprecedented, and served to highlight just how hard working class people - especially moms - struggle to balance the two. Plus, the first season of the show features occasional appearances by a young George Clooney - with a head of hair you could lose a hand in!

The show became as famous for its backstage politics and Barr's own tussles with the network as it was acclaimed for the quality of its writing and acting, especially by the likes of Laurie Metcalf and John Goodman; Barr's midseries marriage to Tom Arnold - while it served to amp up the tabloid headlines - eventually threatened to disrupt the success of the show.

After Roseanne had run its course, Barr tried her hand at a variety of other TV formats, including the potentially career-killing talk show; yet two years as host of The Roseanne Show only served to sharpen the lady's perspective. Always a magnet for controversy - who can forget the national anthem debacle? - it's inevitable that anyone that outspoken seemingly without shame will occasionally give offense; for my part, I can't wait to see who she's going to offend next, even if it might be me.

Born on this day in 1951, Roseanne Barr has lately made a return to the stand-up stage, in addition to recording music for kids and appearing as a panelist on the sorts of shows where opinions matter most - from The View to Real Time with Bill Maher.

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