The Roseanne revival will welcome back two more iconic characters. According to TV Line, Estelle Parsons and Sandra Bernhard will reprise their roles as Roseanne’s mom, Beverly Harris, and family friend Nancy Bartlett, respectively. Parsons, 90, will appear in two of the ABC reboot’s nine episodes, while Bernhard will appear in one. The news comes one week after the announcement that fan favorite Johnny Galecki will return as David Healy for the Roseanne revival.
Sandra Bernhard wasted no time in confirming the big casting news, taking to Twitter to post a photo of her parking spot on the ABC lot and writing:“Big news everyone #Nancy is back! Heading to LA to shoot my episode of @RoseanneOnABC thrilled and delighted to announce this fabulous news more to come!”
Bernhard also posted a photo of herself with Roseanne stars Roseanne Barr and Laurie Metcalf, telling fans, “It’s all happening, kids!”
Sandra Bernhard’s Nancy Bartlett was a breakout character back in the day. The Roseanne character was one of the first openly gay characters on network television in the early 1990s. In an interview with Flavorwire, Sandra Bernhard credited Barr with the groundbreaking move, pointing out that Nancy was a character who just happened to be a lesbian.
“I think the thing that is most important about Roseanne was that she took people, everyday people, and put you into their lives and situations as a person would be,” Bernhard said.
“People who are gay don’t spend all day thinking about being gay… And, you know, the whole point was that [Nancy] had run from her brief marriage to Arnie on the show and he drove her crazy, until she decided she’d rather be gay…She was part of the fabric of the little town, as were the gay men on the show. Roseanne just took it and made it another layer to life in America.”
Roseanne fans will recall that when Nancy was originally married to Arnie Thomas (played by Barr’s then-husband, Tom Arnold). Nancy later came out as a lesbian after Arnie left her, and she began dating Marla (Morgan Fairchild). Arnie later tried to win Nancy back.
The Roseanne reboot is set to feature the return of almost every major character from the original series—even both “Beckys” will appear. Friends of the Conner family, like Dan’s poker-playing buddy, Chuck (played by Grey’s Anatomy star James Pickens Jr.), will also turn up. So the return of Sandra Bernhard’s Nancy begs the question: Will Tom Arnold make an appearance as her ex, Arnie, on the Roseanne reboot?
Tom Arnold was a writer and cast member on the original Roseanne series for six years. In an interview with Mario Lopez, Arnold said he thinks the reboot of the iconic series is a great idea.
“It’s great,” Arnold said. “I love the cast…it was a wonderful experience, great cast and great writers… I wish the best for Roseanne and John [Goodman].”
Tom Arnold and Roseanne Barr had an acrimonious divorce back in 1994, but the actor has been supportive of his ex-wife’s endeavors. And in an interview earlier this year on the Rich Eisen Show, Tom Arnold did not rule out the possibility of returning as Arnie for the Roseanne revival. Arnold revealed he had not yet been called for the ABC reboot, but he pointed out that he was called to do a Comedy Central Roast of Roseanne at the last minute in 2012. Arnold also had nothing but praise for Roseanne Barr and her artistic talents.
“I respect her, I appreciate her,” Tom Arnold said of Roseanne.
You can see Tom Arnold and Sandra Bernhard as Arnie and Nancy on the original Roseanne below.
The Roseanne revival will air in spring, 2018 on ABC.