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Remote Controlled: ‘Roseanne’ Cast on Keeping the Comedy ‘Real’

Welcome to “Remote Controlled,” a podcast from Variety featuring the best and brightest in television, both in front of and behind the camera.  

In this week’s episode, Variety‘s executive editor of TV, Debra Birnbaum, talks with the stars of “Roseanne” about why they wanted to revive the classic sitcom.

Sara Gilbert, who plays the sarcastic Darlene, was one of the architects of the reunion, which was sparked when John Goodman visited her chatfest “The Talk.”

Paramount for Gilbert — and all of the cast — was keeping the integrity of the original series. “We got to address really important issues through the family relationships and through the comedy,” says Gilbert. “It really wasn’t ever hitting people over the head with a message or trying to convince anybody of anything. … So we wanted to tackle the issues of today through the family dynamic and through the humor of the show.”

Among those issues was aging in America, says Gilbert: “I thought we could reach people in a way that other shows couldn’t.”

Gilbert says stepping back into the character after so many years was easier than she expected. “I know exactly where she lives in my body,” she says. “I don’t have to think about it. … But I’ve changed a lot over the years, and so I think Darlene is probably a little softer and a little more sensitive.”

Roseanne Barr Remote Controlled Podcast
CREDIT: Stewart Cook/Variety/REX/Shutter

In the second half of the podcast, stars Roseanne Barr, John Goodman, and Laurie Metcalf weigh in on the reunion. And they report the chemistry was instantaneous.

“It’s good to be back together again,” says Goodman. “It’s like no time has gone by,” adds Barr.

Barr took an active role in writers’ room, and she says she had plenty of ideas she wanted to address. “We wanted to be reflective of what’s going on in the country,” says Barr. “We’ve got it all — and more.”

Fans of the original will find plenty of inside jokes in the first episode, report the stars. “The fans of the show are so devoted, so there are little winks and nods throughout,” says Metcalf.

Yet the characters have changed a bit since the last time we saw them. “Roseanne’s always been a bossy character and she’s a little bit more bossy now,” she says. “Of course Roseanne doesn’t let anyone tell her anything, so she just charges in there.”

And as for Dan, he has learned to listen more, says Goodman. “And by listen, I mean letting things go in one ear and out the other.”

You can listen to this week’s episode here:

New episodes of “Remote Controlled are available every Friday, and you can find past episodes here.

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