January 19, 2009 12:00 PM

Money woes. Weight struggles. Teen pregnancy. Abortion. Not exactly laugh-out-loud material. But 20 years ago Roseanne became a TV hit by having the courage to joke about everyday American struggles like no sitcom ever had. “I remember sitting on the floor of our living room watching the pilot with my family,” says Johnny Galecki, who later joined the cast as Darlene’s smitten high school boyfriend, “and my parents turned to each other and said, ‘It’s like they were peering in our windows!'” Times have changed, but “in some ways, it’s even more relevant [now],” says the show’s creator and star, Roseanne Barr. For years the onetime stand-up comic’s rocky marriage to Tom Arnold, behind-the-scenes blowouts and offscreen antics seemed to overshadow the show’s legacy. But the proof is in the reruns. “It’s been on-air for 20 years, all over the world,” Barr notes. And the show’s stars—like members of any happily dysfunctional clan—stay in touch to this day. “We all loved each other,” Barr says. “We had a blast.”



The ’80s’ brashest mom is now a grandma of four. “It’s awesome! You get a little revenge on your brat kids,” says the star, 56, bursting into her trademark laugh. Those “brat kids”—the models for Becky, Darlene and D.J.—are now in their 30s, and Roseanne’s youngest, Buck, 13, inherited Mom’s bluntness: “When he was 4, he was watching the show and said to me, ‘Hey, did you know you were that fat?'” After a daytime talk show and a return to stand-up, the three-time divorcée is focused on blogging while enjoying her family—and her anonymity: “Nobody ever notices me, unless I talk or something.”


Favorite scene? When Dan and Roseanne found some old pot and Jackie helped smoke it in the bathroom: “I was pregnant, and they stuck me in the bathtub to hide my stomach.” Metcalf, 53, now a mom of four, is wed to Matt Roth (who played Jackie’s abusive boyfriend) and starred in The CW’s recently canceled Easy Money.


Over games of catch, “we became really close,” Fishman says of his TV dad, now 56 and father to Molly, 18, with wife Annabeth. Next up: February’s Confessions of a Shopaholic.


“Sometimes you don’t realize how much you love something until you stop doing it,” says the 27-year-old father of two, who married Jennifer, a daycare worker, at 18 and traded acting for stay-at-home dad duties. Now auditioning again, Fishman is glad he avoided child-star pitfalls: “It was a conscious effort on Roseanne’s part that none of us go crazy.”


Since 1999’s Boys Don’t Cry, the low-profile New Yorker, 34, has had guest roles on Sex and the City and Law & Order: SVU.


“It’s weird going through adolescence onscreen,” says the mom of two, ages 4 and 17 months. A Yale grad and exhibited photographer, Gilbert, 33, reteamed with Galecki on CBS’s hit The Big Bang Theory.


“I don’t think I was much of an actor when I started,” says the single Galecki, 33. “In many ways Roseanne was my college.”

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