Rosanne Barr is back with a vengeance. Thanks to the successful reboot of her famous sitcom this month on ABC, the iconic comedian, actress and writer is inviting the nation back into the Connor family’s living room—old couch and all. Preliminary Nielson ratings reported that the Roseanne premiere attracted an estimated 18.2 million viewers.
It’s clear to original viewers that the show’s namesake and creative mastermind has had quite a physical transformation since the sitcom first aired in 1988. Roseanne even referenced this in the show’s premiere. In the scene, Roseanne’s oldest daughter, Becky, holds up an old family photo showing Roseanne and Dan as quite a bit heftier. (John Goodman has shed 100 pounds and Rosanne has lost a whopping 200.) Becky is intent on hiding the photo to impress the woman hiring her as a surrogate mother—until Roseanne insists Becky keeps the photo displayed proudly. You can’t get rid of that photo, Roseanne jokes, because that’s the only time we looked happy!
Seeing Roseanne back on TV, looking thinner than ever, has the world wondering: how did she lose all that weight?
Roseanne’s weight loss journey
By the time Roseanne premiered in 1988, Roseanne was already overweight. In the 1990s, she reportedly hit 350 pounds. That’s when she began to seek out medical help.
Unlike many celebrities, she openly talks about her gastric bypass, one of the most commonly performed bariatric surgeries, which was performed in 1998. “I had my entire digestive system removed,” she joked in one interview. “So I should look thinner.”
But her weight loss journey didn’t stop with her surgery. She got a tummy tuck after losing 80 pounds, gained a little weight back a few years later and in 2011 regrouped and embraced a more plant-based diet featuring smaller, primarily vegetarian meals and a daily step goal.
Roseanne is famous for her sarcasm, but perhaps her most memorable diet advice came in 2014, when she quipped, “Well, I went on a new diet. It’s radical and revolutionary. It’s where you eat less and move more.”
Meanwhile, her fictional husband Dan (played by John Goodman), has also undergone a significant transformation. The actor famously told David Letterman in 2011 that he was “pushing 400 pounds.” After leaving Roseanne, Goodman said he was confronted with the reality of his compulsive eating.
“It’s been a year and half, I did it slowly [this time],” he said. “I used to go on these diets, take three months and lose about 60-70 pounds, feel great, and reward myself with crapola. Twinkies look good.”
After losing weight through portion control and exercising, the actor again kept it real in TV appearances, telling the Today Show that he didn’t think his weight loss would last. His secret? Lasting lifestyle changes. He now practices mindful eating, uses the elliptical, does stomach crunches and has been alcohol-free for nearly a decade.
The weight issue in the original ‘Roseanne’
When Roseanne first aired, fans loved the fact that the show had a relatable, middle-class female lead. She wasn’t stick thin, but at the same time, her character wasn’t strictly defined by her size. Rosanne made it clear that there is more to a woman than just her weight—a message that was as relevant then as it is today, given the continual rise of the nation’s obesity rates and shifting perspectives on beauty.
Although Roseanne was revolutionary for not letting weight dominate discussions, both Roseanne and Dan openly struggled with the number on the scale. Some of the show’s most progressive quotes about weight include:
- “A lot of people are fat, you know. In fact, I think more American women look like me than you, you know.”
- “In this country we don’t spill blood to shut women up; we do it with diet, fashion and psychiatry!”
- “Women should try to increase their size rather than decrease it, because I believe the bigger we are, the more space we’ll take up, and the more we’ll have to be reckoned with.”
With the news that Roseanne has already been renewed for an 11th season, only the writers are in the know about which controversial topics the show will tackle next. But fans expect the show will keep doing the thing that makes it great: discussing topics that are divisive in our culture, from politics and gender issues to our perception of beauty. And although obesity is undoubtedly a major health concern, there’s a clear movement away from “thin is beautiful,” with more models than ever speaking out about unattainable body requirements and the risks of doing anything to shed the pounds.