Character Spotlight: Jackie Harris

by Beal

jackie_harrisShow: Roseanne

Character: Jackie Harris/Aunt Jackie

Actor: Laurie Metcalf

Basically: In a role that garnered three Emmy’s, Metcalf plays Jackie Harris, Roseanne Conner’s kid sister/resident hot mess. Although similar in age to Roseanne and Dan, Jackie remains unmarried and childless (until Fred comes along and knocks her up) throughout much of the series. She goes on many a date to the local Lobo Lounge, but none of her relationships tend to stick, including one with Mr. George Clooney aka Booker, one of her co-workers at the plastics factory. Jackie keeps herself busy upholding the law as a Landford Police Officer, participating in community theater, driving a big rig, co-owning the Lanford Lunchbox and finally as a lottery winner (consider the shark, jumped). She lives in a super-sweet studio apartment somewhere in the more urban part of Landford, and like any good sister/aunt/sister-in-law she frequents the Conner household for free dinners and access to a washer and dryer.

Darlene: What’s wrong with Aunt Jackie?

Roseanne: Some say environment. . . 

Not to be missed in: Uncle Buck as Marcie Dahlgren-Frost (“Dahlgren is my maiden name. Frost is my married name. I’m single again but I’ve never bothered to remove the Frost. And I get compliments on the hyphen.”) or Desperate Housewives as Carolyn Bigsby who holds up the supermarket and shoots herself after learning of her husband’s affair (Bonus: Fisher, Jackie’s abusive boyfriend on Roseanne, also in the supermarket when she goes postal.)

Why I LOVE Jackie: Hmm, let me count the ways. Usually given few lines to work with, Jackie manages to collect the most laughs, on the regular. She’s neurotic without being ridiculous, pitiful without being pathetic, and in my opinion, one of the funniest characters ever to appear on television. Her laughs were based on merit–great comedic timing and ability to deliver a one-liner without pandering to the studio audience. Although clearly a supporting role, Jackie rarely played second fiddle to Roseanne, easily stealing the scene, if only for a moment.

In A Stash from the Past, Dan, Roseanne and Jackie smoke an old bag of pot they find in the basement. Dan and Roseanne are sitting in their bathroom munching on a fudgesicle when out of nowhere, we hear Jackie, “Nobody loves me.” And as Roseanne pulls the shower curtain and we discover that Jackie is both high and hanging out in the bathtub, I lose it. And then, wait for it, after a hilarious stoned analysis of her life Jackie asks, “Is this the sink? Am I shrinking?” A line which to this day, still elicits the kind of laughter that makes my abdomen (or lack there of) sore the following day. 

Another classic hernia-inducing moment comes at the cost of humiliating Roseanne Arnold’s then husband/producer Tom Arnold. Tell ya what, I have rarely laughed harder than the moment Jackie wakes up in her bed, after a rough night down at the Lobo and begins to put the pieces together from the night before. There are men’s clothes and shoes on the side of the bed, and just as she begins to question who their owner might be, a wife-beater/boxer shorts clad Tom Arnold busts out of the bathroom and asks for a ride home. The horrified look on Jackie’s face is worth it’s weight in urine remover. Oh god, and the scene in the restaurant when Jackie proclaims to the girls (Bonnie, Anne-Marie and Crystal), “I SLEPT WITH ARNIE.” It’s over, I lose it every time. Let’s not forget that she Lysol’s the mattress after the fact, and that this incident alone propelled Roseanne to drive Jackie over to Elgin to sign up for trucker school.

Favorite Moment:

“Well, that’s okay!”


2 thoughts on “Character Spotlight: Jackie Harris

Add yours

  1. I thought Fred knocked her up. I’ll defer to you, obviously, as our resident Roseanne expert but I could’ve sworn it was Fred. Wait, are Fred and Gary the same person? Help!

  2. No, you’re completely right. Fred and Gary are the same word, but they’re not the same person. As in, I apparently just chose a man’s manlike name for that one. Forgive me, it was 7 a.m. and I hadn’t gone to sleep till 4!

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