It wasn’t all that long ago when it was far more common to see TV characters smoking rather than cursing and getting naughty, such was television censorship for many years. You can bet characters were only smoking cigarettes, too, with marijuana remaining a semi-taboo subject until only the relatively recent past. One standout exception to that rule was Roseanne’s weed-fueled Season 6 episode “A Stash from the Past,” which was the sitcom’s signature take on traditionally cornball “very special episodes” that populated the ‘70s and ‘80s. And it turns out the episode’s funniest scene came from a problem that ABC censors had with the scene.
“A Stash from the Past” has long been a fan-favorite Roseanne episode, thanks in large part to the hilarious scene with Laurie Metcalf’s Jackie getting stoned with John Goodman’s Dan and Roseanne Barr’s titular character, and with weed that they initially chastised David for having, even though it was actually theirs. (Parents, amirite?) The episode was written by Kevin Abbott, who went on to become the showrunner for Tim Allen’s Last Man Standing, and when I recently spoke with him about the latter sitcom's series finale, Abbott shared the A+ story below explaining how the scene was made all the more amusing due to a specific note from ABC execs. In his words:
I always say creative problems lead to creative solutions. You know, I did the pot episode of Roseanne, which I wrote, and ABC did not want us to show Laurie Metcalf in the scene where they smoke marijuana, because she was pregnant. She was a critical element of the scene, so we wound up putting her in the bathtub and hiding her behind the shower curtain until she revealed herself. But by not standing, apparently, that was fine by ABC standards, because you couldn't really see her belly. And you know what? We got a lot of good jokes out of that. It actually enhanced that scene, so that's kind of the way we do those things.
So the network wasn’t comfortable having the noticeably pregnant Laurie Metcalf’s character standing around and voluntarily taking part in getting high, but they were apparently cool with everything being the same, only with Metcalf laying down in the tub. The logic there is bizarrely suspect at best, as if whoever sent the network note had a contact buzz themselves. It’s especially ridiculous since anyone who goes back and rewatches the scene can still clearly tell that the actress is pregnant, as if it wasn’t already obvious elsewhere in the episode.
Kevin Abbott brought that Roseanne-ecdote story up as an example of ways in which he and other TV writers sometimes have to come up with on-the-fly solutions for unexpected issues and setbacks. He was speaking specifically about how Last Man Standing had to adjust storylines with regards to when and how former star Kaitlyn Dever was able to make episodic appearances during her filming breaks on other projects, an issue that became even more complicated once pandemic-related filming protocols were put into place. So it’s a good thing Abbott already had a career history in making similar kinds of spontaneous adjustments.
Fun fact: Following “A Stash from the Past,” the very next Roseanne episode, “Be My Baby,” was the one that revealed “Jackie’s” pregnancy within the narrative. That pregnancy was for her son Andy Harris, who famously has yet to appear on The Conners, and he probably never will, in a situation strangely similar to Last Man Standing's long-missing Boyd.
All nine seasons of Roseanne are available to stream on Amazon, while fans can catch up with the family's current issues on The Conners, whose first three seasons can be streamed in full on Hulu. Meanwhile, Hulu is also the spot where fans can find all nine seasons of Last Man Standing, which could feasibly return for a reunion in the future.