In real life, Roseanne Barr is a rich white woman who loves Donald Trump. On her TV show, Roseanne, Barr plays a blue-collar, working-class white woman who loves Donald Trump. While the real-life Roseanne is part of a head-scratching 53 percent of white women who voted for Trump and against their self-interests, Barr’s small-screen persona, Roseanne Conner, is much more dangerous.
On Tuesday the Roseanne reboot debuted after a 20-year drought to record numbers. According to CBS News, the ABC show garnered a 5.1 rating among adults 18-49 and 18.2 million viewers for the hour—proving that there really are people who give a shit about the fictional Conner family and what’s been going on in their lives since the double-decade layoff.
While I would have argued that when the show ended, there was no one pining for more seasons of a show that had a really good run, I also would’ve argued that no one would vote for a failed businessman who’s the modern equivalent of a snake-oil salesman with hair that can at times blow into the shape of an eagle.
Basically, I underestimated America’s love of racism. Clearly. Not that the Roseanne show is overtly racist, or even racist at all, because it isn’t. In fact, the original show won the hearts of many Americans by being about a blue-collar family whose members had a heart of gold and loved everyone in their own blue-collar way. Remember the episode in season 5 where Sandra Bernhard’s character comes out?
The problem with the Roseanne show of old versus the reboot is simply the support of Trump. It’s a point that Soraya Nadia McDonald, culture writer for The Undefeated, tried to get Barr to elaborate on during a recent panel discussion to promote the show. McDonald asked the actress how she would handle reconciling the anti-racism message from the season 7 episode “White Men Can’t Kiss” with her character’s support for a known racist and xenophobe.
“That’s your opinion,” Barr replied, according to the AV Club.
And therein lies the problem. It isn’t an opinion, it’s fact. Trump is an extremely hateful man who openly trades in the language of hate. For all his missteps in business, he has succeeded in monetizing hate. Hell, he rode hate all the way into the White House, and the problem with back-ending the TV-show namesake’s real-life love for Trump is that it’s using the beloved Conner family to normalize his hateful, divisive rhetoric. And Roseanne, the show, not the person, is better than that.
While Trump has always been a few drumsticks short of a full bucket, he knows how to spot a winner, and the Roseanne reboot is winning.
Barr called in to ABC’s Good Morning America on Thursday to brag that the president had called to congratulate her on the show’s success.
“They said, ‘Hold, please, for the president of the United States of America, and that’s about the most exciting thing ever, and it was just very sweet of him to congratulate us,” said Barr, according to CBS News.
Barr refused to go into the details of the call but did note that the two television actors discussed working on the small screen and ratings, which I’m sure meant that Trump bragged about his ratings for The Apprentice.
Much like herpes, the McRib and ’90s fashion, Roseanne is back and we have to deal with it. I don’t know how the Conners of old would feel about the Conners of new, but I do know that the last thing America needed was a working-class platform to normalize the putrid stink of this administration, which openly hates all non-Christian people of color.
In short, miss me with all that “It’s a really good show that actually extends the conversation about race in this country and uses its platform as a launching pad for a bigger conversation about Trump” that I’ve been reading. This show will never get my viewership unless Colin Kaepernick shows up wearing DeRay Mckesson’s vest while kneeling on Roseanne’s back and singing, “God Save the Queen.” Then I’ll watch.
But until then, fuck that show.