In 1985, Roseanne Barr made her debut on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson at a time when few women were given the opportunity. I and millions of others watched this domestic goddess slay a live audience in Burbank. Johnny approved. Roseanne’s life and career launched into the stratosphere overnight.
Soon after, she had her show, Roseanne. It centered on the Conners, a working-class American family, and it is full of rich details that allow every family in America to see parts of themselves within. The show premiered to tremendous ratings on Oct. 18, 1988, and stayed there for almost a decade. Roseanne was a shero from the beginning—brilliant, bold, big, brave and beautiful.
Now, 20 years later, Roseanne and her TV family are back, warts and all. And she is using her art to address relevant social issues, just as she has always done. There has been much said about her love of the current President. Although I don’t understand it in any way, I love her still. I have seen the indefensible tweets from her macadamia-nut farm—and I forgive her.
I know what it’s like to be like Roseanne. She is the big sister I never had. And she has grown and shrunk right before our eyes with a courage that astounds me. She has been criticized by a President for singing the national anthem. She has openly struggled with mental illness. She travels the breadth of extremities, and that frightens most. But we feel her heart. We have watched her survive it all for three decades. And we love her for it.
O’Donnell is an award-winning actor and comedian