You may or may not have noticed that Roseanne is back. Not Roseanne Barr–she never left–but Roseanne Conner with her accompanying family (Darlene, DJ, Dan, Becky, Jackie, etcetera). Various entertainment publications are abuzz about not only the show’s return but, even more importantly, its stellar ratings. NO ONE COULD HAVE PREDICTED THIS, they say. YOUNG PEOPLE ARE WATCHING ROSEANNE, they say.
Why is this surprising? Well, partly because many of those young people weren’t born when the original Roseanne aired (1988-1997), but mainly because ROSEANNE (Barr and Conner) is a TRUMP SUPPORTER. I guess many people assumed that all the “libtards” would boycott Roseanne merely because of the transphobic/racist/misogynistic/homophobic rants of the woman very much at the center of the show.
I can’t explain why these “libtards” didn’t, other than maybe they were curious for a taste of the show and the woman and her infamous family, but I can tell you this–I will not be watching the show again.
I did watch the first two episodes–mainly because (and this is pure coincidence) I was teaching the original Roseanne (along with The Cosby Show and Seinfeld) in my TV History class this week–and it is precisely because I have watched those episodes that I know I will not be watching any more.
Here’s the thing: The Cosby Show is odd to watch because of the horrible actions of the man at the center of that show, but it is possible to teach the show, to analyze an episode, to discuss both the merits and shortcomings of the show separate from the horrific actions of Bill Cosby. I acknowledge his actions in class, I do not dismiss or excuse them, but we place them to the side while discussing the show for the purpose it served for American TV history.
I cannot discuss the merits of the Roseanne reboot without constantly running straight into its shortcomings, shortcomings that frequently make me even more furious than having someone dismiss me as a “libtard.” So much of what is wrong about that show is reflective of what is wrong with America.
Roseanne is depicted as “authentic working class.” Because, you know, “authentic working class” is white and homophobic (but still compassionate to her gender-fluid grandson because she’s “authentic”) but AUTHENTIC (did I mention authentic?) because she cares about JOBS (which, apparently, only HER president cares about, not the other one, who is not named). And Jackie–idealistic “life coach” Jackie–shows up in a Nasty Woman shirt and a pink pussy hat BECAUSE THAT IS WHAT A FEMINIST IS: an impractical, superficial, reactionary woman in a bright pink hat and an aggressive t-shirt.
Unlike the original Roseanne, which actually managed to portray a set of people and issues otherwise absent from TV, this latest show feels like I dropped in on a Facebook comments section and all I hear is a lot of hot air (can you hear hot air?) and shrill voices and no substance and support for a homophobic/transphobic president who also respects women and hires the best people and he doesn’t really mean it when he says “—-______” because he actually does “______.” I don’t need to tune in to ABC to get more of that. I don’t need to tune in to ABC to see that Roseanne doesn’t really mean it when she says “______” because she actually loves her black granddaughter (never explained) and her gender-fluid grandson (his fluidity is a huge issue mentioned approximately 1000x), and she’s authentic, so she’s just one of those salt of the earth people who tells it like it is. You know, like the president.
I get the sense (and I could, of course, be wrong) that there is a through-line here, that we are meant to appreciate Roseanne’s authenticity, her “real life” struggles, and understand why she, like so many other working-class people, had no choice but to vote for the “authentic” candidate (the one who was going to drain the swamp) rather than the career politician (but her emails). After all, as Roseanne herself said, “Working class people elected Trump.”
So those who are authentic, whose struggles are real, those salt of the earth people who tell it like it is, who aren’t libtard poseurs or the snooty 1%, those are the people who voted for Trump, the soul of America, the core finally exposed for the real, raw, messy truth that it is.
Except, of course, for the fact that, like so much coming out of the current administration, this is WRONG. This is #fakenews. In the 2016 election, 53% of those making under $50,000 voted for Hillary. Forty-one percent of voters making under $50,000 voted for Trump. In the $50,000-$100,000 income range, 46% voted for Hillary and 49% for Trump. As for people making over $100,000? Oh, 47% voted for Hillary and 47% for Trump.
Here’s a graphic courtesy of exit polls conducted by Edison Research for the National Election Pool that support these percentages:
Based on these exit polls, you can see that Hillary actually received more of the under $50K vote. And above $50K? Trump scores higher in every category.
So explain to me again how Trump is the “working man’s candidate.” Explain to me how Roseanne’s problems (such as her difficulty making her mortgage and her frustrations with her limited health insurance) are going to be solved by “her” candidate. Explain to me how her problems are more authentic than mine or the Latino family down the street or the African American family around the corner or the trans soldier next door or the gay family across the street. You know, all those people who have lost health insurance or jobs or citizenship or lives or a home as a direct result of the current administration.
In a dramatic moment, Roseanne tells Jackie that she forgives her for not voting for Trump. (Jackie, being a shrill and naive libtard with no “authentic” grasp on the issues, didn’t even vote for Hillary. She voted for Jill Stein!) Roseanne does not apologize for not speaking to Jackie for a year, for setting up a “tribute wall” and acting as if Jackie were dead all that time. She does not apologize for voting for the most corrupt and self-serving politician to have hit the White House. She does not apologize for voting for someone whose very actions and words directly attack her family. She merely tells Jackie “I forgive you,” and Jackie nods, accepting how difficult that was for Roseanne to say. And Jackie says she doesn’t even know why she voted for Jill Stein.
I don’t forgive Roseanne. I don’t forgive her for the mean and horrific rants she has shouted (both on twitter and IRL) at the world, and I don’t forgive the show for implying that Roseanne’s problems and election choices are somehow more “authentic,” more “real” than every American I know who has suffered through the last year of this current administration. I am not amused at the portrayal of Trump-supporting Roseanne as an “authentic and real” person struggling to get by, while Jackie is a joke with her “Nasty Woman” voice, her “life coach” soundbites, and her inexplicable vote for Stein.
Most of all, I do not forgive Roseanne–and everyone involved with shaping the show’s direction–for normalizing our current political situation. It’s not funny.