by Julian Spivey
You know that famous Roseanne laugh that you hear at the end of the opening credits of her show that shares her name?
I’m sure it’s the same laugh she has right now at all of those up in arms about the success of the show’s return. Hell, it’s probably the same laugh had by ABC executives after 25 million (18 million in real time) watched the show’s premiere last Tuesday.
It’s pretty much a fact that the real Roseanne is a loon. She’s batshit crazy. Anybody who’s ever viewed her Twitter profile for 10 seconds could tell you that. She’s offensive. And, unfortunately, she’s likely mentally ill. But, she’s the lead of an all-time great television sitcom in an era when networks are banking on the returns of classic television sitcoms to help bring eyeballs to television.
Roseanne has called out Parkland survivors on social media, dressed up like Adolf Hitler to sell cookies (at least I think that’s what she was doing), believes in crazy pro-Donald Trump conspiracy theories, has equated Islam with Nazism, and you could go on and on. Simply put, Roseanne as a person is not a very good one.
“Roseanne” as a television show is hilarious. It’s very popular. And, it’s not going anywhere. In fact, ABC took all of three days to renew the revival for an expanded second season. ABC is a business and cares about ratings and money. “Roseanne” is providing those in a BIG way. I’m sure Roseanne’s politics and offensive antics are going to cause executives at the network a major headache and they’re going to have to do everything they can to try to reign her in, something that may not be possible for her. They deserve these headaches too. But, if those viewers are rolling in every week they won’t mind it all that much. If those viewers stop rolling in you can bet they’ll cancel the show in a heartbeat.
The backlash against Roseanne the person is deserved, but what’s bothersome is those online who are essentially trying to bully ABC into canceling it because of it’s stars idiocy. I’m certainly struggling with this. I’ve loved the show “Roseanne” since I was a kid watching re-runs of it on Nick at Nite or wherever else you could find it on cable. I didn’t know at the time it’s star was a loon. Like many people in this country her looney-ness seems to have been building over the last decade or so. And, so I must try to separate “Roseanne” the television show from Roseanne the actress/comedian/personality. I believe you can separate art from the person. It might be hard. Luckily, it’s not something I believe I’ve ever had to experience until now, but it can be done.
Many of those 25 million who tuned into watch “Roseanne” last week just wanted to see a funny TV show that they’ve loved for many years. I’m sure many, if not most of them don’t even know a thing about Roseanne’s politics and offensiveness. They just want to laugh at punchlines between the Conners. That doesn’t make them bad people. It doesn’t make them enablers. TVLine’s Michael Ausiello wrote a great piece this week on continuing to watch “Roseanne” even though it makes him a hypocrite (his word and I believe he’s being a little harsh) in: “Roseanne Revival: I’m a Hypocrite Who Hates Himself for Loving It.” He does a good job pointing out that even though the star of the show is a Trump supporter the show itself is quite inclusive: DJ is in an interracial relationship and Darlene’s son is gender fluid. Also, Darlene actress Sara Gilbert (gay and working with Roseanne just fine despite their differences), and executive producer on the revival, said that after the show’s premiere last week there won’t be a single mention of Trump on the rest of its season.
How about we as Americans stop trying to kill off stuff that offends us? Yes, there are some things we should try to end – bigotry is tops on this list. But, the show “Roseanne” isn’t a medium for Roseanne the person’s beliefs. It’s an ensemble work that includes a cast of vast differences and beliefs. Just because we don’t agree with Roseanne’s beliefs in real life doesn’t mean we should call or tweet ABC and demand them end her show. I despise Ted Nugent, but I’ve never once called, tweeted or emailed my local classic rock radio station demanding they quit playing “Cat Scratch Fever.” I don’t do that because it’s frankly asinine. What do I do when I hear Nugent come on? I turn the dial. You can too. You don’t have to watch “Roseanne” if you don’t want to for any reason. That should be enough for you.
And, don’t give me this stuff about how ABC is suddenly becoming pro-Trump. This is the same network, after all, that features the terrific sitcom “Black-ish” (maybe the best sitcom on network television), which has had some of its best material being anti-Trump. It’s also the same network that less than a year ago canceled the Tim Allen-led “Last Man Standing,” which was way more conservative and political than the revival of “Roseanne” will be. We can have television shows that skew both ways on our screens. For what it’s worth, I bet the political lines for “Roseanne” viewers are split right down the middle.