Written by: Jennifer Kathleen Gibbons
This is not going to be a surprise to my longtime readers, but I (clears her throat) am a screaming liberal.
How liberal am I?
I have a Bernie Sanders T-shirt. At one point, I had several pairs of Birkenstocks. I have a Michelle Obama canvas bag. I volunteered at KPFA for years, always voted blue, and have a collection of election buttons supporting Bill Clinton, Al Gore, John Kerry, Barack Obama, and yeah, Hilary.
So why am I saddened by the cancellation of the TV show Roseanne?
Let me explain.
When the original Roseanne debuted in 1988, I thought it was amazing. Roseanne Connor was funny, smart, and nobody’s fool. She wasn’t the perfect mother and she didn’t pretend to be the perfect mother. She did the best she could with what she had and she and her husband Dan (John Goodman) always wanted their children to succeed in life, no matter what.
“Roseann” was one of the first TV shows to show what it was like living on the margins in the United States. It dealt with issues like not having enough money and getting the power shut off for a weekend, watching the business you built going bust, or your daughter finding out she doesn’t qualify for financial aid. I loved the show because of Darlene, the middle daughter was like me: a writer feeling stuck in a small town, wanting to escape.
So when I heard there was going to be a “Roseanne” reboot, I was intrigued. When I heard Roseanne Connor was a Trump supporter, I was shocked, but I thought Okay, keep an open mind. I wanted the “Roseanne” reboot to succeed because I want scripted shows to succeed and I want domestic comedies to succeed. Maybe it’s me, but I don’t give a fig about the woman whom the bachelor chooses, I don’t want to see young singers embarrassed by smug judges, and I don’t want to see a family famous for… God, I don’t even know what the Kardashians are famous for these days.
All I know is I wanted “Roseanne” the tv show to succeed because I knew it would have good writing. And I wanted good writing to succeed.
Was the new “Roseanne” as funny as the old “Roseanne”?
However, it had its moments:
Going to the grocery store and finding no clerks there, but here’s a machine to do self-checkout! Hence, Roseanne not paying for several cakes to protest machines doing a person’s job. At the same grocery store, Roseanne calling out a clerk’s racist comments to a Muslim woman (although Roseanne had similar thoughts at the beginning of the episode). Her eldest daughter Becky (Lecy Goranson) deciding to become a surrogate mother so she could buy a house “and get dental work from someone not doing it in his truck” then becoming heartbroken when she finds out she can’t conceive a child. Darlene dealing with a gender fluid child who loved to wear skirts (Ames McNamara) and working as a waitress to get the advantage of a rare benefit plan.
I tried to concentrate on the good writing rather than Roseanne’s awful tweets and opinions. I also wanted to understand why a feminist, outspoken liberal like Roseanne Barr suddenly became a Trump supporter. I wanted to understand, rather than just dismiss the whole thing and walk away.
Yet today Roseanne posted The Tweet of No Return, comparing former Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett to an ape. And I felt sick. I knew then I couldn’t watch another second of the reboot.
And then came the swift news that ABC canceled the show.
So why am I saddened by this?
Because of Roseanne’s disgusting tweet, everyone who worked on the show is out of work.
Also, we lost a glimpse of working class people trying to survive when it’s almost impossible to survive, but they still have hope that life will get better.
I’ll miss moments where Darlene finds herself working at a casino, then writes about it in the kitchen late at night. Where eldest daughter Becky starts to think about going back to college. Where son DJ admits he’s in therapy, then starts to help his dad in the garage rebuilding motorcycles.
But more importantly, because of Roseanne’s disgusting tweet we got a deeper glimpse into the ugliness in people’s hearts that, in the era of Trump, they feel emboldened to share.
“Roseanne” was about the fact that life can be damned hard and if you don’t laugh at it, you will be defeated.
Today, Roseanne defeated herself.
And she defeated “Roseanne.”