*Warning: This post contain spoilers regarding last week’s Roseanne premiere, as well as a spoiler from the original series. Read at your own risk if you have not seen the episode.
The reboot of Roseanne premiered last week to critical acclaim, love from the audience and ratings that are a dream for any television show.
With the love from the critics and the audiences comes a bit of controversy. It was a shock to some audiences that Roseanne Conner not only voted for you know who, but proudly flaunts it, especially in the face of her sister Jackie (Laurie Metcalf) whose equally proudly flaunts that she voted for Hillary Clinton.
It’s also necessary to point out that Barr herself voted for you know who, but that is a topic for another time.
Some viewers were outraged that Roseanne (the character, not the actor) voted for you know who. Other viewers were more than pleased with revelation.
My feeling is that as much as I would have loved for Roseanne to have been a Hillary supporter, the writer in me knows that it was the right decision in terms of the politics of the character. Roseanne Conner is not wealthy by any stretch of the imagination (despite the fact that the Conners won the lottery towards the end of the run of the original series). She is still a working class wife and mother, trying to get by as best she can. One of the reason, unfortunately, that you know who won, is that he spoke directly to the needs of the working class, aka the Conners.
Only time will tell if Roseanne changes her mind. But what I liked about the episode was how Roseanne and Jackie were able to come together as sisters, even if they disagree on certain political views. If they can come together on-screen, then perhaps Americans as a whole can come together, even if we disagree on the issues.
Art has one of two roles when it comes to reflecting the reality of the world we live in: it either reflects an ideal world which more often than not, is impossible to reach. Or, it reflects the reality of the normal person going about their business.
It should be no surprise that for most of history, men have controlled everything, including art. But in the world of television, change is finally coming.
In the new book, Stealing the Show: How Women Are Revolutionizing Television, by Joy Press, the author examines how a handful of female showrunners, directors, and producers are starting to change how women in television are viewed, both in front of the camera and behind the scenes.
She starts off the book with nods to the unappreciated female OG’s of television (Gertrude Berg and Lucille Ball) and then moves forward to acknowledge the groundbreaking 1990s shows Murphy Brown (led by Diane English) and Roseanne (Roseanne Barr). She then talks about how modern female showrunners and producers are changing the portrayal of women on television. The list of women profiled in the book includes uber-successful producer Shonda Rhimes and actress/comedian Amy Schumer.
I really loved this book. Not only is it well written, but it speaks to the woman who is looking for the courage to follow her own path, even if it means diverging from the tried and true. I also appreciated the shout-out to Gertrude Berg whose name is unknown to most modern television audiences (unless that is, you are above a certain age), but with her trail-blazing path, the television industry would not be what it is today.
I recommend it.