No one's career trajectory in 2018 can possibly match that of Roseanne Barr, who rose to the apex of TV success with the Roseanne revival and subsequently lost it all, thanks to her uncensored social media remarks. As it turns out, Barr's situation might have gone far differently had she been able to follow through with an earlier gig, as she was apparently set to join the cast of Showtime's single-mom dramedy SMILF to play star and creator Frankie Shaw's mother Tutu. In Shaw's words:
It's been a secret until this moment. We did offer Tutu to Roseanne, and she was going to do it and then she broke her knee and had surgery.
As SMILF fans are aware, Bridgette Bird's mother Tutu was portrayed in Season 1 by another hugely successful female comedian, Rosie O'Donnell, whose similarities to Roseanne Barr are largely tied to stand-up efforts. But if things had gone slightly differently for Barr in 2017, she likely would have been manically blowing money and having surprisingly honest sex scenes on Showtime for SMILF. And assuming she wouldn't have kept her controversial Twitter habits up in quite the same manner as she did in the wake of Roseanne's success, Barr likely would have been gearing up for the already confirmed Season 2, which will likely hit the premium cable network late in 2018.
At a For Your Consideration event (via Variety) for ABC Studios, which serves as a distributor for the dramedy, SMILF's co-stars Frankie Shaw and Connie Britton were on-hand to share stories about the show's relevance in the #MeToo era, and how the timing with real-world scandals worked out for Season 1. But the biggest bombshell of the panel was definitely Shaw's reveal that Roseanne Barr was seemingly locked in to play her TV mom. She explained how it happened, and how shocking it was to immediately hear about Barr's knee injury.
I was like, 'You're my hero, will you play my mom?' And she said yes, and I went to Boston and then I got this call that she had fallen in a park and had like 45 stitches, and wasn't allowed to travel. I sent her this package, and I even wrote the character would be in a scooter. I was like, 'She'll be in a scooter, we'll just scoot you around you won't even have to walk.' And her doctor said she can't fly.
Interestingly, ABC's Roseanne revival also worked Barr's real-world knee injury into the solo season's storyline. Not only did Roseanne Conner end up getting hooked on pain pills as a result of the injury, tethering the arc to the U.S.'s opioid epidemic, but it also created some of the family's financial woes. So at least it worked out for someone, since Frankie Shaw's SMILF dreams got dashed so hard.
For those who haven't been keeping up with the Roseanne roller coaster, the cast and crew were in the motions of putting Season 2 together when Roseanne Barr took to Twitter with a derogatory comment about former Barack Obama aide Valerie Jarrett (among other posts), which provoked ABC execs to cancel the revival straightaway. Barr, who says she begged ABC to rethink the decision, blamed the sleep aid Ambien for her erratic Twitter behavior. At this point, Roseanne's future could continue through a spinoff series that would likely be based on Sara Gilbert's Darlene, assuming ABC wants to listen to disappointed fans who wanted more from Darlene and David's storyline.
We shouldn't expect to see Roseanne Barr being reinvited back to SMILF for Season 2, but crazier things have happened. Stay tuned to learn more from that impending season, as well as what will happen to Roseanne's core characters at ABC. In the meantime, our summer premiere schedule will keep you in the loop on everything coming soon.