In 1987, NBC had first crack at a working class family sitcom starring then-up-and-coming standup comedian Roseanne Barr. Legendary NBC programmer Brandon Tartikoff famously passed, and the project landed at ABC where it went to series, Roseanne, which ran for 9 years. Twenty four years later, another sitcom about a lower middle class family starring Barr hit the market, and this time NBC and its new programming chief Bob Greenblatt jumped on it. The network bought the multi-camera comedy, titled Downwardly Mobile, with a script commitment plus penalty. Co-created by Barr, her boyfriend John Argent and former Roseanne executive producer Eric Gilliland, who will serve as showrunner, the ensemble comedy revolves around a family and friends living in a mobile home community. It is produced by 20th Century Fox TV as it stems from a script deal the studio made with Barr in August. Barr, Argent and Gilliland will executive produce with Steven Greener, who also executive produced Barr’s Lifetime reality series Roseanne’s Nuts, which was recently canceled after one low-rated season.
The timing of Barr’s new sitcom is reminiscent of that of Roseanne, which resonated with viewers for its realistic depiction of the struggles of the lower middle class in the post-Ronald Reagan America. Two decades later, America’s working class is going through similarly tough economic times. Barr, who has never been shy about speaking her mind, has morphed into a rather controversial figure since rising to fame as a sitcom star on Roseanne. In August, she announced her candidacy for president under the ‘Green Tea Party’ and said she would also be running for Prime Minister of Israel. And earlier this week, she made headlines with her statements that bankers who don’t give up wealth should be beheaded. Barr is the latest 1980s-1990s sitcom star to return with a new multi-camera comedy. Tim Allen headlines ABC’s new series Last Man Standing, which launches next week, while Cheers star Kirstie Alley toplines a comedy pilot for ABC. NBC’s comedy starring vehicles in the works for next season now include projects fronted by Barr, Sean Hayes, Sarah Silverman, Portia de Rossi, Dane Cook and Snoop Dogg.