The upcoming Roseanne reboot will introduce many new characters into the Conner household — but one added role is extra special! News first broke back in August that the revamped show was looking to add a "gender creative" character to the cast, and now we know that person is Darlene Conner and David Healy's nine-year-old son, Mark Conner-Healy.
A previously uncovered casting notice described Mark as being "sensitive" and "effeminate" and having "qualities of both male and female young child traits." It has since been announced that the gender nonconforming character is being played by newcomer Ames McNamara. In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, Sara Gilbert — the series' executive producer and Darlene's portrayer — explained why her character's son chooses to wear girls' clothing.
Ames as Mark on _Roseanne_. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
"He’s not a transgender character. He’s a little boy. He’s based on a few kids in my life that are boys who dress in more traditionally feminine clothing. He’s too young to be gay and he doesn’t identify as transgender, but he just likes wearing that kind of clothing and that’s where he is at this point in his life," Sara said. "There is an episode that addresses [his clothing]. He dresses that way throughout the show, but there’s one episode that focuses on it more heavily. We did a lot of research because we wanted to make sure and do it properly. This character is not transgender."
Sara additionally revealed why she wanted to include Mark's character in the new cast. "[He] represents the world. This is a show that’s always been able to represent the world and talk about it without being so issue-heavy. We can do it through the dynamics of the family. I know kids like that and it seemed like a great character. One kid in particular that I know is so sweet, funny, charming, and great," she said. "In a way, the character — that’s one element of the character that he dresses that way, but he’s also based on this kid I know in a lot of other ways. I don’t want to pigeonhole him and say just because he dresses this way that’s the only thing about him. He happens to dress that way but he’s an amazing, creative, brilliant kid, which you will see, and so is the kid, Ames, who plays him."
We previously learned from a TV Line report that Darlene and David (portrayed by Johnny Galecki) will have two children, a boy and a girl, in the new reboot. Their daughter, Harris Conner-Healy, will be played by Emma Kenney. Mark's name is also a touching tribute to late Roseanne star Glenn Quinn, who portrayed David's brother Mark Healy on the show's original ABC run from 1988 until 1997. Glenn tragically died at age 32 in December 2002 from an accidental heroin overdose.
Now that Roseanne is returning to TV, many questions have been raised about how the show's plot will continue after the series' shocking 1997 finale. When the blue-collar sitcom came to an end after nine seasons, protagonist Roseanne Conner (played by Roseanne Barr) confessed her beloved husband, Dan Conner (John Goodman), tragically died of a heart attack. Additionally, it was revealed that the entire series was actually a story written by Roseanne about her life and major elements of the plot — including the Conners winning $108 million in the Illinois lottery — were actually fiction.
But the reboot's storyline will reportedly be completely different! The biggest remake shocker is that Roseanne's husband Dan is still alive. Yes, seriously! We also know main characters D.J. Conner (Michael Fishman), Becky Conner (Lecy Goranson), and Jackie Harris (Laurie Metcalf) have returned. Sarah Chalke — who played Becky in Seasons 6-9 — will additionally appear in the reboot, but in a different role as Andrea, a middle-class married woman who hires Becky as her surrogate.
The Roseane revival show is set to premirere on Tuesday, March 27 on ABC. In a recent exclusive interview with Closer Weekly, Laurie (who plays Jackie) opened up about returning to the small screen with her former co-stars. "It’s shocking that it feels like no time has passed at all. We really became a family, and I guess that never left our bodies," she gushed. We can't wait to watch the new Roseanne!