In an alternate television universe, there might be a different critically acclaimed show about a working0class family struggling to outmaneuver the fallout from Roseanne Barr’s disastrous racist tweet. According to Variety, SMILF star Frankie Shaw revealed that the Roseanne actress was initially supposed to portray her mother Tutu, a role now occupied by Rosie O’Donnell. She explained at an ABC Studios’ For Your Consideration event that “it’s been a secret until this moment.” Said Shaw, “We did offer Tutu to Roseanne, and she was going to do it and then she broke her knee and had surgery.” The news is such a deep SMILF cut, even Shaw’s co-star Connie Britton was shocked to hear it. “I didn’t know that. That would’ve been so fascinating,” Britton replied. “You and Roseanne, are you kidding me? Let’s talk about it.”
According to Shaw’s telling of events, Barr’s inclusion in the cast was pretty much a done deal when Barr experienced a medical emergency. “I was like, ‘You’re my hero, will you play my mom?’ And she said yes and I went to Boston and then I got this call that she had fallen in a park and had like 45 stitches and wasn’t allowed to travel,” she recalls. “I sent her this package and I even wrote the character would be in a scooter. I was like, ‘She’ll be in a scooter, we’ll just scoot you around you won’t even have to walk.’ And her doctor said she can’t fly.” Suddenly left without a mother figure two weeks before filming, Shaw met with O’Donnell to gauge her interest in the role. And the rest is SMILF history.