Bewitched And Roseanne Show The Evolution Of TV
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In Bewitched, a TV show about a normal family that lives in absolute terror of their supernatural mother, the father, Darrin, was originally played by Dick York. When he collapsed on set in 1969, he was quickly replaced by Dick Sargent, because I'd like to believe that producers in the '60s figured that if they replaced a Dick with a Dick in the show's opening credits, middle America wouldn't notice. But everyone noticed, and the ratings for Bewitched plummeted.
Time to gather around the television and regret.
Over two decades of sitcoms went by, and plenty of Darrin situations occurred. By the time Roseanne aired, sitcoms were much more willing to joke about actors being replaced. This goes double for Roseanne, which was the most bearable sitcom of the early '90s because you never knew if Roseanne was going to praise her family or insult them for being permanent morons. It's an arguable mothering tactic, but it makes for infinitely better television.
Roseanne's oldest daughter, Becky, was played by Lecy Goranson for the first five seasons of the show. They wrote her off so that the actress could attend college, but then freaked out and decided that they needed the character back. Since it would be in poor taste to say, "Drop out of college and pursue the ultimately haphazard career of a TV actress where no job is ever secure," they inserted Sarah Chalke, who you may remember from her starring role on Scrubs and for being the fiance that wisely dumps Ted Mosby on his wedding day in How I Met Your Mother.
I'm gonna ask her to prom.
Sarah Chalke was Alpha Becky for two whole seasons, before producers decided that the eighth season might be the last. So, they brought back Goranson, and Goranson played Becky for most of the season, while Chalke played Omega Becky and acted in only a few episodes. It was bizarre, and the writers of Roseanne handled it as gracefully as they could. And by that I mean they poked fun at it at every opportunity and bulldozed the fourth wall. If they were given the chance to hint "Hey, is this alternating Becky mess not the weirdest fucking thing ever?" they took it. Chalke would play Becky for the entirety of the ninth and final season, putting an end to the Kafka experiment that Roseanne had become.
And though it didn't happen in the eighth season at the peak of Roseanne's lunacy, television came full circle in Season 6, when it showed the family watching Bewitched, with Chalke mentioning that she liked the second Darrin better. See, it's funny, because Chalke was the second Becky, and because no one liked Darrin 2 better. We were all cool with the new Becky until she had to go and reveal that she was a Second-Darrin fan. Outside of burning down the family home, it was the best way to reveal that Becky had returned as an unstable psychopath.
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"Please don't murder us while we sleep, honey."
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