Sunday, February 14, 2016

Marcia Clark in Lanford

People may be talking about what a good job Sarah Paulson is doing on The People vs. O.J. Simpson in playing Marcia Clark, but I keep thinking of the actress who donned that curly moptop before her, and even before Tina Fey on Kimmy Schmidt: Laurie Metcalf on Roseanne.

I looked online and couldn’t find the scene posted anywhere handy, so I created a clip of it myself, just in case you maybe haven’t seen it or did see it and wonder if perhaps you dreamed it.

Late in the show’s seventh season, Marcia Clark literally popped out of Roseanne’s living room TV to chat about the difficulties of being a working mom. Watching it more than twenty years later, it’s a little clunky — that joke about ex-husbands goes down about as well as any joke about current events, decades after the fact, and it’s more disturbing than funny that Roseanne is blithely cutting food with the knife that killed Nicole Brown Simpson — but to this day, it’s this bit I think about when I hear Marcia Clark’s name, not Marcia Clark herself. Dueling Beckys notwithstanding, Roseanne did better with continuity than other ’90s sitcoms, but I like that they could also take a break from that to get weird. “Hey, what if this happened?” “Eh, sure. Why not? Let’s stick it into the closing credits.”

Closing thought: Are people maybe just impressed with Paulson’s role just because Ryan Murphy’s TV machine has permitted her to take a break from playing literal monsters? Do you think she was like “Hey, what if I played someone my mother could tell her friends about?”

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