The legions of fans anxiously awaiting Rosanne Barr’s return to network TV recently got some great news.
Anyway, Deadline Hollywood reports that 20th Century Fox TV has signed a deal with Barr and her current agent/boyfriend Johnny Argent to develop a half-hour sitcom. The premise? The show, entitled Downwardly Mobile, will focus on the trials and travails of a tightly-knit, working-class family struggling to make ends meet. Steven Greener, executive producer of Barr’s reality series Roseanne’s Nuts on cable’s Lifetime, will produce along with Barr and Argent.
Sounds familiar, yes? Maybe a little too familiar when one considers that Barr’s second husband, comedian Tom Arnold, played a significant role in the early years of her last sitcom, Roseanne. In fairness though, although Barr and Arnold’s marriage eventually imploded (in dramatic fashion, no less), that didn’t stop Roseanne from becoming a massively successful hit (seriously, in its heyday, Roseanne was nothing short of a cultural phenomenon).
The question, I suppose, is whether sitcom lightening can strike twice. More importantly, does Barr, after all her success (and millions of dollars), still have the comedic chops to play a working-class stiff struggling to keep her family together, keep food on the table, and keep paying the bills?
One might be tempted to argue, too, that the 1990s were a different time; the TV-watching audience has probably lost its appetite for such sitcoms. Then again, considering the economic turmoil of recent years, this might be the best time ever for a Roseanne-style sitcom.
In the least, it’ll be interesting to watch if the new show churns out more pots of TV gold or becomes a can’t-turn-your-eyes-away TV train wreck. Considering Roseanne’s behind-the-scenes drama throughout its run, one train wreck or another is almost a sure bet either way.
Of course, it won’t be as fun as watching a Charlie Sheen style train wreck; but whereas Ms. Barr doesn’t quite measure up to Sheen’s knack for clever catch phrases, sound bites, and neurotic rants, she’s more than a match when it comes to sheer gravitas, obnoxiousness, and bluster.
Now if they’d only invite Chuck Lorre on board.