It’s been more than 20 years since we last saw the Conners, but some things feel awfully familiar for the “Roseanne” clan — especially for D.J., played by Michael Fishman.
Though Fishman’s character had little to say in the reboot’s premiere last week — which was met with monster, Trump-approved ratings — there’s more to come from the once mischievous Conner kid.
“I’m ecstatic about where D.J. is. I hoped he would be a dad, and I love the military storyline,” Fishman says.
D.J. was just 15 years old when the original series ended. The reboot introduces the sitcom’s loyal fans to a military veteran who’s dealing with being a “single dad” while his wife remains deployed in Syria. And, no, he doesn’t still live at home with Roseanne (Roseanne Barr) and Dan (John Goodman).
“Rarely on TV do we get to explore what it is like for veterans to return from service and transition back to civilian life,” the actor says, adding that a personal connection to the military via his brother and father has left him “honored” to portray such a storyline.
So far, fans have only gotten to see a quick glimpse of D.J. and his daughter, played by 8-year-old actress Jayden Rey, at the family dinner table. Though the conversation was monopolized by the Trump-supporting Roseanne and pussy hat-wearing Jackie (Tony winner Laurie Metcalf), a brief mention of D.J.’s wife served as a flashback to the original series.
Roseanne smoothly mentions D.J.’s wife Geena at the table. But, if you were just as distracted by Becky’s (Alicia Goranson) decision to be a surrogate as Roseanne was, you probably missed the hook to the 1994 episode “White Men Can’t Kiss,” one of the most significant for D.J.’s character.
“D.J. marrying Geena is a great callback for fans and it shows that my character has grown a lot from that episode,” Fishman says. By “grown a lot,” Fishman refers to the season 7 episode’s script, which saw his character refuse to kiss Geena in a school play because of her race.
“Roseanne” has never been shy about tackling issues of race and politics and that rings true for the revival. Fishman’s character now brings much-needed diversity to the working class, right-winged family.
“Real families are complex and diverse,” Fishman says. “Roseanne and I have always talked about D.J. being in an interracial relationship. Plus, having bi-racial kids … (fans will get to) see characters that look like them on TV and are relatable.”
Fishman says there are several other Easter eggs hidden within the revival, and suggests fans keep their eyes peeled.
The writers have “woven them into the show so new fans are never left out,” he assures, meaning they’ll hardly be easy to spot.
“Roseanne” airs new episodes Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on ABC and has already been picked up for its 11th season.