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Series / Grace Under Fire

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"Grace Under Fire was famous for two things: its blue-collar sensibilities that made Roseanne look like Fellini; and the painkillers-and-booze-fueled escapades of its star, Alabaman comic Brett Butler."

Grace Under Fire is a Sit Comic created and executive produced by Chuck Lorre which was produced by Carsey Werner and aired on ABC from 1993–98 and starred Brett Butler as the eponymous Grace Kelly, with content finding humor in working-class life, single motherhood, and a somewhat redneck sensibility.

Famously hit the skids in its fourth season due to its pill-popping star's on-set antics. Surprisingly, the show limped its way to a fifth season, but was abruptly canceled when Butler's rehab stumbled.

Tropes include:

  • Actor Allusion: When some black friends of Grace are offended by her and her boyfriend Rick, they accuse Rick of being like "one of those racist cops from In the Heat of the Night." The actor who played Rick, Alan Autry, was indeed one on that show.
  • And Starring: Julie White as Nadine.
  • Coming-Out Story: With Grace's father-in-law Emmet. Next episode, it's Bury Your Gays.
  • Crossover: In 1997, ABC forced a crossover stunt on Grace and the other Wednesday night sitcoms - Coach, Ellen and The Drew Carey Show. Titled "Viva Las Vegas," the idea was that characters from the four shows would be in Las Vegas for different reasons and encounter each other. Only a couple characters from each series did this, however, and they amounted to cameos at best. This series' contribution was "Vega$."
  • Disappeared Dad: Grace's ex Jimmy at times although he would turn up sporadically.
  • Domestic Abuse: Grace and her ex-husband Jimmy.
  • Epunymous Title
  • Everything Is Racist: When a black couple moves in the neighborhood, and Grace invites them over, feathers get ruffled with Jean sees the husband and thinks he's there to rob the place. Grace spends most of the episode trying to convince him she's not a racist. The fact that this was during the story arc Quentin had shaved his head doesn't help matters. His wife is a bit more understanding however, saying he had clashed with neighbors in the past about alleged racism, including Jewish ones.
  • Happily Married: Wade and Nadine, until Julie White left the show after the fourth season - but Casey Sander stayed, necessitating their permanent separation.
  • I'm Going to Disney World!: Grace sees an ad for an Ambulance Chaser featuring Jimmy, who is currently behind on his child support, announcing he's been awarded $10,000 for a slip and fall suit and is "going to Disney Land!" Grace notes how dumb this is, as she can easily have the payment seized to pay the outstanding child support.
  • Just the Introduction to the Opposites: A son and father have a fight, but the dad acts like the kid. He eventually storms into his room, and starts blaring swing music while the son pounds on the door and tells him to stop that racket.
  • Kissing Cousins: Mentioned several times as being common in Jimmy's family.
  • My Greatest Failure: While Grace is (somewhat) cordial with Jimmy, her friends and coworkers have made it known to her that they can't get past the fact that he used to beat her.
  • Named After Somebody Famous: The lead character's name is a reference to the actress Grace Kelly.
  • Nice to the Waiter: Jimmy starts seeing a new woman in one episode. He gets Grace to promise not to let her know about their history of abuse, but a red flag pops up when they go to a restaurant and he chews out the waiter when he messes up her order, and then he snaps at her when she tries to get him to calm down. After a little talk with Grace about the incident, she decides to dump him.
  • Off the Wagon: Grace would have occasional episodes of this and Butler's would later affect the show. Her stay in rehab resulted in the final season being moved to mid-season replacement.
  • Playing Sick: Quentin tries this on his principal when he's falling behind in school. Because this was when he had shaved his head, she ended up convinced he had cancer.
  • Racist Grandma : Jean's idea of teaching Patrick cultural sensitivity is to read him Little Black Sambo.
    Grace (to Nadine): Don't! It took me forever to get her to say Black.
  • Soapbox Sadie: While protesting to save a tree from being cut down, Libby becomes one in the last season.
  • Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome: Quentin went from eleven to fifteen between seasons.
  • Spiritual Successor: to Roseanne, which dealt with many of the same issues and themes. Not surprising since Chuck Lorre was a former Roseanne writer, Brett Butler (like Roseanne Barr) was a stand-up comedian, and Carsey Werner produced both shows (concurrently). Both shows were shot in the same format and in the same style (Three Cameras, Laugh Track, Standardized Sitcom Housing) to the point that you'd almost believe the Conners and the Kellys might have been neighbors. (They did each live in a One-Neighbor Neighborhood, it's entirely possible...) Other similarities include:
    • Both shows even had the female protagonist initially working a blue collar "man's job" (both worked in petrochemicals: Roseanne at a plastics factory and Grace at an oil refinery) with each eventually departing their job for greener pastures.
    • Both shows replaced the actor playing the eldest child, and both shows saw one of the children cast for the pilot replaced when the show went to series. Roseanne saw Becky played first by Lecy Goranson, then by Sarah Chalke, then by Lecy Goranson, and finally by Sarah Chalke. D.J. was played initially by Sal Barone for the pilot, but then by Michael Fishman for the rest of the series. Grace Under Fire was only slightly less convoluted: Noah Segan (a skinny redhead with glasses) played Quinton in the pilot, but Jon Paul Steuer (a stockier brunet) took over for the first three seasons. Although they looked nothing alike, Segan and Steuer were at least born within six months of each other, but when Steuer left after the third season, he was replaced by Sam Horrigan, who was three years older (and on the other side of puberty). This forced the character to be aged up, as noted above.
    • Most notoriously, both shows had The Prima Donna stars who feuded constantly with their writer-producer, Chuck Lorre, and forced him off the show.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Discussed frequently and believed fervently by Grace's mother in-law.
  • Unseen No More: Jimmy was never seen on-screen in the first season, and only heard in a television ad that Grace saw but was not shown to the audience. He became a recurring character in the second season.