This happens to be one of my favorite quotes of all time, and like anything else, there is a story behind it. I first came across it as part of the final episode of Roseanne. Even though Roseanne ran throughout much of my childhood, I did not watch it much until it was in reruns. As so many have noted over the years, the early years of the series are far and away the best. The final couple of seasons grew increasingly strange and unbelievable, at times almost unwatchable. I heard rumors and opinions on the series finale, and I finally had to experience it for myself. I wasn’t prepared for my reaction.
I can fully understand why people didn’t like it and felt that it was a trite way to write off a year or two of bad writing. As a writer, I saw it as something else. It turns out that Roseanne explained that horrible last year or two of the series as the fiction of the fictional Roseanne Connor. It turns out that she wrote the entire series and changed things to suite her liking. She paired Mark with Becky and Darlene with David, not the other way around as in “real” life. She portrayed her sister Jackie as a single woman forever searching for the right man, instead of the lesbian that she was. The biggest surprise of all: Dan actually died as a result of his heart attack. No, they never won the lottery. As questionable television as it may be, it works if you are a writer.
I love Roseanne Connor’s monologue at the end of the series. She explains that she wrote in order to cope with the reality and loneliness of her life, particularly after Dan died. She decided to “fix” things. It happened to be her way of making sense of her chaotic life. That is something I think all writers can understand. It still surprises me that such a complex, interesting quote, coupled with a wonderful monologue that explains the need for a creative outlet, ended a beloved 80’s sitcom. Unfortunately, I believe the complexity is and was lost on many people.