Roseanne & Tom: Behind the Scenes (1994)

Aired shortly after FOX’s abysmal Roseanne: An Unauthorised Biography, this biopic bypasses the TV star’s early years to focus exclusively on her relationship with Tom Arnold. Armed with a better cast, script, direction and production values, Roseanne & Tom: Behind the Scenes is far better than its rival, but that was a pretty low bar to clear.

Arguing with one of her multiple personalities, Roseanne casts her mind back to when she first her second husband. Watching him from the wings as he performs the ‘Tom Arnold and the Goldfish Review’, Roseanne immediately takes a liking to the overweight comic. The two become close friends and eventually lovers while Roseanne’s career goes from strength to strength. An appearance on ‘The Tonight Show’ is followed by a HBO special and the opportunity to star in her own sitcom, but her demands threaten to derail her success. Though Arnold is given a job as a writer and warm-up comic for the show, he believes his primary duty is to help Roseanne remain in control.

As opposed to the series of vignettes that tried to pass for a biopic in FOX’s attempt, Roseanne and Tom: Behind the Scenes presents two fully rounded characters (so to speak). Tom is still the heel who sells stories to the tabloids to fund his cocaine addiction, but other sides to his make-up are explored. Patrika Darbo, who memorably portrayed the tragic banking employee from In the Line of Fire, once again makes the most with what little she has to work with. A comical depiction of the couple’s first sexual encounter, romantic scenes including a chase around the 'Roseanne' set and uncomfortable public brawls lift this biopic out of the mire its predecessor was all too happy to flounder in.

One of this film's strengths is its presentation of Roseanne’s battle with the makers of her hit sitcom, including one scene where the producers pitch the idea of continuing the show without her. Though Goodman and Metcalfe laugh this off, Roseanne’s behaviour during the show’s reboot brought that unlikely scenario to pass.

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The character of TV producer Bobby Matthews is based on Matt Williams.

Though biopic features many behind-the-scenes sequences from Roseanne’s TV show, it does not cover her film career.

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