Her initial success came with the role of Amanda Cousins on the soap opera All My Children from 1982 to 1983. During and after that time, she appeared in a string of independent and B-movies, including Protocol, Fright Night and Fraternity Vacation. Her big break came in 1987 when she was cast as Marcy Rhoades (later Marcy D'Arcy) on the hit Fox TV sitcom Married... with Children. She played the role until the show ended in 1997. In the mid-1990s, Bearse also appeared in the films The Doom Generation and Here Come the Munsters.
Bearse began directing television while appearing on Married... with Children, and from 1991 to 1997, she directed 31 episodes of the show. She also directed episodes of Reba, Mad TV, Nick Freno: Licensed Teacher, Malcolm & Eddie, Pauly, The Tom Show, The Jamie Foxx Show, Dharma & Greg, Veronica's Closet, Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place, Jesse, Jessie, and Ladies Man. In 2005, she directed “The Sperm Donor”, a pilot for NBC starring Maggie Wheeler. In 2006, Bearse teamed with Rosie O'Donnell to direct The Big Gay Sketch Show, which debuted on Logo on April 24, 2007.