The Crazy Way Roseanne's Revival May Have Called Back To The Original

roseanne white men can't kiss

Roseanne's heavily watched return to ABC was imbued with tons of callback moments, where most were played for laughs, such as the two Becky actresses getting their own plot together. But the sitcom's return was possibly keeping some of its in-universe references closer to its chest. For instance, D.J.'s young daughter Mary is black, and big fans of the original series likely did a double take upon learning that his wife, who is currently away on a military tour abroad, is named Geena. Which may or may not be a gigantic connection to the standout episode "White Men Can't Kiss."

Let's retreat a bit for some backstory. Back in Roseanne's seventh season, the episode "White Men Can't Kiss" made a lot of headlines for tackling race and racial stereotypes. In the ep, D.J. is in a school play where he's meant to kiss a black female classmate named Geena Williams, but he's not into it at all. It causes strife between Roseanne and Dan, both of whom come to second-guess their own assumed lack of racial prejudice. Ham-fisted at times, the episode was still pretty groundbreaking for primetime TV in 1997, and its themes were clearly important enough to return to in the form of Mary Conner. But D.J.'s revival story may be far more directly connected, thanks to the name Geena.

Now, the revival offered no other personal history details about Geena beyond that first name, so we can't just go 100% on the assumption that D.J. ended up marrying the same girl he once refused to kiss. But I seriously doubt Roseanne Bar, Bruce Helford and the rest of the creative team agreed to have D.J. married to a black woman named Geena that is mutually exclusive from every other Geena he's ever known.

geena williams roseanne

I suppose it's possible that, when meeting his now-wife Geena for the first time, D.J. recalled his school years and shared the story about not wanting to kiss his classmate. And maybe that icebreaker is what set these two military-minded characters on a lifelong path to matrimony. Or, stay with me here, it's the same character!

It would make a lot of sense for Roseanne to call back to "White Men Can't Kiss" in such a way, since the revival is definitely embracing its former approach to topical subjects, such as racism, politics, and other hot button issues. Plus, it would also tie into how the Conner family members tend to create their most lasting relationships in their youths, given how Darlene and Becky got with David and Mark (respectively) as young adults. (Not that everyone is still together.)

So if it turns out this is not the same Geena, I'll understand and accept it. But if I see Lewis Dix Jr., who played Geena's TV dad, show up in the background of any scenes, I will not accept any other explanations.

With lots more Conner family fun (and awkwardness) on the way, Roseanne airs Tuesday nights on ABC at 8:00 p.m. ET. Check out the big guest star that turned down a return to the show, and let us know below if you think this Geena is the O.G. Geena. And while waiting for new episodes, head to our midseason premiere schedule to see what other shows are on the way.

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Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.