On ‘Roseanne’ and Conservative TV

Posted in Blog, TV by - May 31, 2018
On ‘Roseanne’ and Conservative TV

I’ve always compared Roseanne to the other 1990s working class family show – The Simpsons. The latter is a long running animation satire hanging on to its last legs. But every other show still feels like it has to hold a candle next to it. Every other show runner also dread the idea of looking like Simpsons copy cats. The parallels between the two shows don’t just concern their respective reputations.

The shows’ writer rooms are full of educated liberals. They prefer to write for characters like Darlene (Sara Gilbert) or Lisa (Yeardley Smith). Their fans are another story, who are middle Americans yearning for protagonists just like them. Like Homer (Dan Castellaneta) and Roseanne (Roseanne Barr). And nothing sounds better that a real life version of The Simpsons. However,  imagine Homer as a real person with less nuance than a fictional character. Add an unhinged Twitter account to that and that’s what Roseanne IRL is.

Background. Hollywood thought it was a good idea to play into audience’s nostalgia instead of giving them new ideas. One of these throwbacks are Roseanne. Its writers, including show runner Whitney Cummings has an important mission statement in bringing the show back. They’re using the show and its star to target, empathize, and humanize conservative audiences. Both sides in the political spectrum agree that the right has a terrible reputation in fictional media.

More on that later, but their mission failed since Roseanne Barr decided to tweet something racist. That resulted with ABC firing her and cancelling the show that she stars in. Our friend and fellow staffer Heidy M also reminded us of something. That a cast and crew whose political beliefs probably don’t align with hers also lost their jobs today. ABC is also in trouble for putting Roseanne in a very permanent hiatus. The only other popular shows in the network are expensive contests like American Idol.

Let’s looking at the TV schedule this season. When doing so, popular network television don’t align with its ‘liberal media’ reputation. Tim Allen is another 90s working class alum like Barr. He has a show right now called Last Man Standing. It’s a cringe-worthy title of a show where he stars as Mike Baxter. It also has a cartoonishly liberal hipster baby daddy character in Ryan (Jordan Masterson) who loses every argument with Mike. There’s also Donnie Wahlberg’s horrific Blue Lives Matter propaganda of a show called Blue Bloods. There are shows that promote nerd misogyny (Big Bang Theory) or right wing paranoia (NCIS).

Nonetheless, one of my first instincts was to play devil’s advocate with myself, which, let me finish. An outspoken woman lost her job and her conservative program. On the other hand, male stars of equally conservative TV shows get off scot-free. However, the stars of those shows let their publicists run their Twitter accounts. Barr, on the other hand, has been tweeting about George Soros. Losing a job over a racist tweet is a pat of a predictable trajectory for her. The only thing saving Barr right now is speculation that Fox might pick up the program. This will show that she doesn’t have to learn from her mistakes.

Let’s get back to the talented people, mostly women, who worked with Barr. The show writes most of them feeling exasperation at the fictional Roseanne’s political views. I’m not a woman (yet) but I feel bad for women, fictional or otherwise. Most of them suffering under the idiots in their lives regardless of gender. At least two of them will be fine. Laurie Metcalf, who should have won an Oscar this year, is starring in a Toy Story sequel with Allen. Sara Gilbert has The Talk. Estelle Parsons and Sandra Bernhard can rest on their laurels, even if doing so might not be as lucrative. We can say the same for Christopher Lloyd. And John Goodman and Johnny Galecki are always working.

I also wonder about what Cummings is going to do after this. Three of her programs aired in 2011, one of which she had intelligent, non-racist observations about the Angolan flag. The most boring of those shows ended after six seasons. Before and during Roseanne 2.0 she would be guests in podcasts. There, she would talk about human evolution and topics she actually knows about. She’s a smart comedian and writer who could be our Armando Iannucci if she wanted to.

The earliest conservative I remember is Pat Buchanan, who Jay Leno made fun of for being a Nazi. From childhood to adulthood, most of the conservatives I’ve met are as horrific as Barr. This includes people in my jobs outside of this one. Barr’s tweet is a disappointing step in a journey in finding a non bigoted conservative voice. That journey might be a fruitless one.

This post was written by
While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watch movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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