Later this month, Roseanne returns to ABC after a 20-year absence.
In a nine-episode run starting on March 27, the trials and tribulations of the working-class Conner family of the fictional town of Lanford, Ill., will take centre stage once again. The Hollywood Reporter asks pointedly in a recent headline: “Is TV Ready for a Trump-Loving Comic With ‘Nothing Left to Prove’?”
Ah, so that’s what makes it interesting.
Roseanne Barr has been vocal in her support of President Donald Trump. Barr says she voted for Trump to “shake up the status quo.” It was revealed in the Hollywood Reporter article that the star, unhappy with the number of “Trump slams” in the premiere episode, demanded that “you guys (writers) have to have a Hillary slam.”
She got her way. While neither candidate is mentioned by name (Trump is referred to as “that man”) there is a reference to “pantsuit” which, one presumes, is the shorthand way to reference Hillary Clinton in the barb inserted at Barr’s insistence.
Why court controversy at all?
According to Barr, it was a no-brainer because “it’s the conversation everybody is having. Families are not speaking to each other. People are still shocked and upset about it. It’s the state of our country.”
Before liberals get their knickers in a knot over the prospect of a much-loved (in some quarters) television character supporting Trump, it would behoove them to remember that the original series run of Roseanne dealt with serious issues in a blue-collar setting that was to that point grossly underrepresented in our popular culture. They were a Trump family in waiting before there was such a thing.
It dealt head-on with the uncomfortable realities of domestic violence. The character of Roseanne’s sister, Jackie (played by Academy Award nominee Laurie Metcalf), was in an abusive relationship and attempted to hide her bruises as she slid further into depression, self-loathing and isolation.
The Conner’s youngest child, D.J. (played by Michael Fishman), refused to kiss a black girl in a season seven episode when the script for the school play he was in called for him to do so.
Such issues are hardly the knee-slapping, belly-laugh-inducing fare of your normal network sitcom. For that reason alone, the series deserves respect for tackling difficult subjects that are normally ignored.
The show also portrayed what life was really like for a family with limited income and even more limited prospects. They survived each week by hanging onto what little they had and trying to make ends meet. In a season two episode, Roseanne finally gets a job that would allow her to leave her plastics factory assembly line behind only to lose it just as quickly when it’s discovered that she has no computer skills.
She’s consigned to working a string of low-pay, no-future occupations, including in fast food, sweeping up hair in a salon and being a waitress in a department store cafeteria. In other words, her life looks a lot like the lives of millions of Americans who voted for Trump in the 2016 election.
Perhaps the most insulting thing that has arisen since the Trump victory is the dismissal of those blue-collar and “deplorable” people who voted for Trump because they saw him as offering hope to a life situation that for them seems perennially hopeless.
They’ve been dismissed and marginalized as uneducated, uninformed, unyielding, racist and almost any other epithet one can conjure out of the rarified air breathed by ivory-tower intellectuals.
Many of those criticisms and proclamations from on high have come from newspaper opinion pages and, if anything has more clearly shown how out of touch many commenters are with the real world that exists beyond the gaze of their own navel, then it has been the time we are living in and the insulting treatment of Trump voters – a treatment, by the way, that more clearly explains why they flocked to him than any poll could possibly hope to do.
At least, with this one character, those voters will have a loud, sarcastic but sympathetic voice once again speaking to them from their television screens.
Troy Media columnist Gavin MacFadyen is a Canada-raised, U.S.-based writer. Blending insight and wit, he brings a unique perspective to the issues of the day.
The views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.