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Roseanne: Continuing Its Troubled Depiction of a Midwestern Family

Roseanne, the show, has always been a problematic character. We like to think that Roseanne, the show, has been a great depiction of a Mid-Western family that was struggling financially. They were depicted as the “all American family” who may have an occasional token African American friend. They were always focused on how a modest income white family survived in America. The show focused away from social issues unless there was an occasional episode that had someone within their family was directly involved in an issue that many other people are experiencing. Now that Roseanne is back, we are in a different space, but they are still a white family just barely making it.

Personally, I loved watching Roseanne, but I had problems as a child while watching it. I noticed that they had a black family, and in one instance their son, D.J., refused to kiss a black girl because she was “different.” Roseanne and Dan had a conversation about how Roseanne insists that DJ must kiss the girl and Dan said he didn’t have to because she was in fact “different.” Neither of them wanted to believe they were in fact racist because they wanted to be different from both of their families, who were in fact racist.

After the end of the Roseanne show, in 2018, Roseanne returned. We observe DJ who now has a black daughter and Darlene who has a gender fluid son. We can also safely assume that Jackie is finally outwardly living as a gay woman since she came out of the closet in the final season of Roseanne. In the midst of this diversity, Roseanne and Dan voted for Donald Trump. Roseanne is apart of the majority of white women who voted for Donald Trump. In order to deal with this issue, we observed the year-long disconnect between Roseanne and Jackie that happened simply because one is for Trump and the other is for Clinton. The moment between Roseanne and Jackie is completely authentic.

As a Black woman who watched Roseanne for laughs, yet I knew she had problems with identifying with people like me, the question lingers: Should I watch Roseanne the re-boot? Since Roseanne Barr openly supported Donald Trump, I stopped watching the re-runs. I just could not support this woman, but should I watch the re-boot? Instead of criticizing from afar, I watched.

Roseanne, the reboot, is looking for an audience – the Trump supporter who does not believe they are homophobic, racist, sexist, and any other –ist, but they are okay with supporting someone who is. This show provides them comfort in their decision. Simultaneously, the show is to help the rest of us to understand these Trump supporters. They believed they were doing the right thing at the rest of our peril.

I can’t tell anyone to watch it. I see what the show is doing, and I acknowledge it. In the midst of the laughs, the show is trying to find a sense of understanding how we all view the world through our own experiences.


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