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October 20 2008

Joss Whedon looks back on his Roseanne years. Fun nostalgia feature over at

I remember when Roseanne was funny. Those last few seasons were terrible.
'Roseanne' was a classic show for a lot of years IMO, losing it a bit (OK, a lot ;) at the end doesn't take much away from that. It's kinda like when people talk about how 'The Simpsons' isn't as good as it used to be, sorta leaves me thinking "Yeah, so only the fourteen years of weekly hilarity then, jeez, couldn't they have tried a bit harder ?" ;).

I'd got the impression Big Purp had a bit of a nightmare working there, Roseanne being notoriously "particular" but it's good to see that that was either wrong or that time's done its healy thing and stripped out the bad bits. Gotta say, I wouldn't hate reading the spec that got him the job, it'd be interesting to see how much of "him" was there even at 24.
I, too, had gotten the impression his time at Roseanne had been somewhat less than perfect (7th paragraph). But time can soften experiences, as Saje said, and besides, people often wear their rose-colored glasses to anniversary parties.
Man, 24 and writing for Hollywood. That'd be so much fun, even if the evil execs were putting the screw to you. Of course, it may not be fun if you hit a dry spell or had to pay for things like food, I suppose. It's great that Joss was able to start so early so we can hopefully have a long career out of him!

Whenever I see John Goodman now, I just think of Walter Sobchak.
Yeah, there's a big interview somewhere where he lets rip a bit.

But this is EW. I guess that's like Radio Times right?
A bit. I think EW does films and plays as well (or does the RT do that now ? Been a while since I bought it). "TV Guide" might be a closer analogue.
I loved this show for a long time, and I like to imagine that Joss wrote this, my favorite moment on a show with a lot of great moments (but I agree that the last few seasons really sucked).
I remember a story of Rosanne giving the writing team numbered T-Shirts and telling them she wasn't going to bother learning their names, she'd just call them by number.
I always hated Roseanne. Can't put my finger on why, just always irritated me. But I was a kid then, maybe I'd like it now if I went back.
Yes, I write Darlene's lines, I leave a space, then I write a rebuttal.

He is a funny guy.
I thought Roseanne reflected my life more than most shows on TV.

Though I thought they were pretty whiny for people who got to live in a house.
embers - I was fairly certain I'd read something about it, and checking, yep, that's a Joss-penned ep.
Yet another thing I did not get interested in until I found out Joss Whedon had worked on it for a time.

Roseanne cause me to avoid the show. Joss Whedon got me to check it out and Darlene caused me to stay.
ZodKneelsFirst and Saje, EW does films, television, music, books, and occasionally video games and plays. So yeah, TV Guide is way closer to a "Radio Times" equivalent. ;-)

Roseanne is one of the greatest sitcoms of all time...then they won the lottery and it just bottomed out. But that's okay, because for the many years it was brilliant, it was the most honest and accurate show I'd seen up to that time. Always been a huge fan since I was a little'un, and way before I even knew who Joss was. When I found out that he had written for it, I felt a weird sense of validation.
My parents were really strict: Roseanne was one of the shows I wasn't allowed to watch growing up, along with Saved by the Bell and the Simpsons, because they were too "adult" for me.
So, of course I watched all of them all the time and I still love them. I think that's where I got my weird kind of humor.
And btw, Glenn Quinn as Mark? So cute! I didn't see any mention of him... that's kinda sad.
PS, don't tell my mom :)
Joss wrote my favorite Roseanne episode - the one where Darlene reads her poem.
I could never stand Roseanne as a person. The show, until (as mentioned) the end, was quite good at the time. I have no idea how it holds up because I haven't seen it in ages. But when it was at its best, it was because it was (in UnpluggedCrazy's wrod) honest.
At its best - and Joss' episodes would obviously be among these - I thought Roseanne was a touching and very funny sitcom.

According to, Joss' episodes are in Season Two: The Little Sister, House of Grown-Ups, Brain-Dead Poets Society, Chicken Hearts.

This previous Roseanne Whedonesque thread mentions "seven" Joss episodes, and his quote below five-six, but I can only find four, myself. I used to see "Hair" & "Fathers and Daughters" referred to as his, but they're no longer up at imdb - they could be wrong, if you can imagine that, or the eps could have been so messed with, mebbe, that Joss doesn't care to claim them...

"I was on Roseanne for a year, and in the first half of that year, I wrote five scripts. I was a staff writer, the lowest thing you can be. And one of my father's older writer friends actually asked me, 'Have they let you start to write a script yet?' I was like, 'I'm on my fourth.' Because there was such chaos, and almost nobody else there could do it. It was great. It was like this vacuum of power, and I got sucked up. I got so much responsibility. But then my stuff kept getting rewritten, and in the second half of the year I just wrote one. I got shut out by the producers, basically. And I wasn't writing. I was coming in late, leaving early, and writing my screenplay instead, because they weren't using me, and it was driving me crazy, because I don't want money for nothing. So I said, 'I quit.' " - Joss at The Onion's AV Club with Tasha Robinson, 2005

[ edited by QuoterGal on 2008-10-21 20:23 ]
QuoterGal, do you know if the screen play he is referring to working on while at Roseanne is about a little vampire slayer that could?

[ edited by caring hands on 2008-10-21 21:27 ]

[ edited by caring hands on 2008-10-21 21:27 ]
I really don't know, caring hands - says so, but how accurate that is, I dunno. They seem to have gotten a few other things wrong in their Joss-bio, so I'm not completely sanguine. The chronology seems very likely. says Joss wrote Buffy in 1988, and left Roseanne after selling it, so mebbe. I do believe he left Roseanne after selling a script, but whether he was on the writing staff for sure when he wrote & sold Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or he was referring to working on one of his unmade optioned specs - Suspension or Afterlife - I haven't read for sure.

"' 'It was baptism by radioactive waste,' says Whedon. '[Roseanne] was like two people. One was perfectly intelligent and good to be around. One was very cranky. You never knew which would show up.' '' - Joss Whedon, interview by A.J. Jacobs, 1997
he was referring to working on one of his unmade optioned specs - Suspension or Afterlife - I haven't read for sure.

Okay, another area in which I am clueless. Do we know anything about these two things other than that they exist?
I loved Roseanne. I wouldn't necessarily call it a guilty pleasure but for once (which doesn't happen often), I was able to put aside my animosity for an actor (Barr) and enjoy the art, of which there was plenty, and smart writing (okay, not all of the time). I'd heard Joss was a writer on the show but hadn't read any of the information surrounding it. I'm gratified he wrote the Darlene poem and other episodes early on. As a couple of chicks said to Tony Manero in the Saturday Night Fever sequel, "Guys like you are exercise." Sounds like Joss got some good exercise writing for the show.
Do we know anything about these two things other than that they exist?

I know I'm about 1/3 of the way through Afterlife.
Okay, another area in which I am clueless. Do we know anything about these two things other than that they exist?

Suspension was "Die Hard on a Bridge", IIRC.
I've read Afterlife - it's kicking around the intertubes - but I've never found a copy of Suspension. (Hint, hint.)

There's a SPOILER-LADEN review of both at
Thank you, bix and QG. Now I won't be able to sleep until I find this.
Saje: I started feeling The Simpsons' decline around season nine, but then I grew up on it and so discovering that the show having any flaws at all was a type of loss of innocence. (So was getting some of the show's more adult-themed jokes.)

I have not yet gotten a chance to watch much Roseanne, my admiration for John Goodman (mostly from the Coen movies he's in--Walter, yes, but also Charlie in the underrated "Barton Fink") and obviously JW notwithstanding. I might ask for a DVD box set or two for Christmas and my birthday, coming up....
So why didn't Afterlife get made?
It was a bad script?

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