Nancy Bartlett, Roseanne
Nancy Bartlett (Sandra Bernhard)
On the long-running comedy Roseanne, recurring character Nancy Bartlett was introduced as the girlfriend, then the estranged wife, of Arnie Thomas, one of Roseanne’s husband’s poker buddies.
After her marriage to Arnie fell apart, Nancy came out as a lesbian, and later, as bisexual. By Season 5, Nancy had found new love, twice, first with another woman, Marla, then with the opposite gender, Roger. Later, Arnie Thomas tried unsuccessfully to return to Nancy, but she rejected him. By the series’ end, Arnie supposedly landed a good job out-of-state and he and Nancy reconciled, although it was never seen on screen.
Roseanne and Sharon kiss
Roseanne was one of the first American television series to feature an intimate kiss between two women. In the Season 6 episode “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (6×18), Roseanne agreed to accompany Nancy on her visit to a gay bar. When it originally aired on March 1, 1994, it generated enormous controversy before it even aired because it included a same-sex kiss between Roseanne and Nancy’s new girlfriend Sharon, played by guest star Mariel Hemingway.
While ABC initially planned not to air the episode, the network eventually relented and the episode was viewed by an audience of some 30 million people. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was an early entry on a list of American television episodes in which a lesbian or bisexual character kissed a straight-identifying character as a ratings gimmick. (Lesbian kiss episode)
In response to the episode, Television critic Frank Rich of The New York Times called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” “a small step forward for the stirring of homosexuals into the American melting pot” and a “sophisticated half-hour [that] turned homophobia on its ear”. Writers Stan Zimmerman and Jim Berg were nominated for a Writers Guild of America award for their work on the episode.
- 33 episodes. 4x07 - 9x24
Female love interests:
- Sharon (Mariel Hemingway, guest, 2 episodes)
- Marla (Morgan Fairchild, guest, 3 episodes)
Relationship story arc with a woman: No
Male love interests:
- Arnie (Tom Arnold, recurring, 20 episodes, husband)
- Roger (Tim Curry, guest, 2 episodes)
Relationship story arc with a man: Yes
Filter Relationship Arc:
Storyline during sweeps? Yes
 A relationship story arc is defined as explicit, developed on screen, and lasting more than 3 episodes. It is listed as questionable or subtext if romance is only implied, mentioned instead of shown on screen, part of a dream sequence, or otherwise not explicit for the viewer.
 Sweeps episodes air in February, May, July and November, the periods when advertising rates are set. A character is marked as "sweeps" when there is a very limited number of episodes that address their sexuality, all air during sweeps period, and the storyline is otherwise ignore/dropped.