5 throwback abc shows that should replace 'roseanne'

A chance for the channel to right its wrongs.

by André-Naquian Wheeler
29 May 2018, 10:00pm

You’ve surely heard the news by now, but if you haven’t, here’s a recap: Tuesday afternoon saw ABC swiftly cancel the planned follow-up season of its Roseanne reboot. The decision to part ways with the surprise ratings juggernaut came after its title star tweeted out a troubling and racist joke about Valerie Jarrett, who was a White House staff member during the Obama administration. “Muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj [sic]," Roseanne wrote about Valerie (who is black). ABC quickly responded to the wave of social media outrage with a seething statement that strongly condemned the comedian’s actions. "Roseanne's Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant, and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel her show," Channing Dungey, president of ABC Entertainment, wrote.

Now that there is an open slot in ABC’s fall schedule, we wanted to suggest some throwback shows the channel could bring back that would definitely be more entertaining and less problematic than Roseanne. Want to tap into the heartland of America? Family Matters is arguably a better representation of what a majority of working-class families look like today, full of diversity, inclusion, and strong values. Then there is Ugly Betty, which was adapted from a Mexican soap opera. Despite the increasing hispanic population, Latino representation on television is still woefully low and bringing back Betty could help correct that. And how about Desperate Housewives? We like to think of it as the OG Big Little Lies.

Here’s your chance to right your wrongs, ABC.

My So-Called Life

Two decades later and there still hasn’t been a teen show quite like My So-Called Life. Which is impressive considering the Claire Danes-starring series only ran for one season. Still, it managed to a cover a large breadth of issues during its 19-episode run: alcoholism, homelessness, bullying, and teen sex being a few. Think of it as a more tame and realistic Thirteen Reasons Why. That said, it would be great to see the distinctly quiet, no-frills aesthetic of My So-Called Life adapted for our digital age. We can imagine the new Angela narrating for the audience while recording a vlog. Then, taking inspiration from the increasing number of teens using juuls, the show could tackle the dangers of vaping. And perhaps the show could tackle a new part of the LGBT spectrum by having a trans character face homelessness from their unaccepting parents (trans homelessness being a problem that does not get nearly enough attention in the media).

Ugly Betty

The recent cancellation of The CW’s Jane the Virgin has created a critical need for a new English-language soap opera that features a predominantly Latino cast. Because what’s better than an endless stream of murder, betrayal, and shirtless hot men? The American adaptation of Ugly Betty was, in many ways, the predecessor to Jane the Virgin, and now is a good time as any for the show to make a return. We imagine Betty running a fashion publication and trying her best to keep it afloat during these tough economic times for media companies.


The early-2000s has made an official comeback and what embodies the garishness of the decade better than Sydney Bristow’s shocking red hair? The Disney cartoon Kim Possible is receiving a live-action film adaptation, so it only makes sense for the OG female spy show to get a turn. It would be interesting to see J.J. Abrams return to the show that helped launch his vast, insanely successful career — this time with a bigger budget and more clout.

Family Matters

Family Matters was hella cheesy, yes, but there was something oddly comforting about it. And perhaps cheesy is exactly what we need during an era where each day seems to be bring increasingly distressing news. Family Matters stood out for providing the world with a rare representation of a black middle-class family, because Memorial Day barbeques and PTA meetings are not just for white people. Family Matters did not always directly address race in the same way like Black-ish does today, but it was its universal appeal that illustrated there was ample room on television for black families. And, now that we think about it, Steve Urkel was definitely a twink.

Desperate Housewives

Desperate Housewives broke barriers in Hollywood by letting a group of women over 30 led a show (okay, Golden Girls did this first, but you know what we mean). These were bored housewives who indulge in beautifully hedonistic acts, went after what they wanted in life, and were multidimensional, flawed characters. They are — in many ways — a blueprint for strong female Shonda Rhimes characters like Annalise Keating and Olivia Pope, committing murder with few regrets or apologies. In an era dominated with shows carried by headstrong wives ( Empire, Big Little Lies, Good Girls) there is definitely an audience for Desperate Housewives.

My So-Called Life
Desperate Housewives
ugly betty