Short Take: Roseanne Reboot, Reviewed

Apparently, the old Roseanne television show has been brought back, same cast, same show, as if the Connors were there all along. Nobody told me, so I didn’t watch it. Well, there’s a fair chance I wouldn’t have watched it regardless, but that’s only because I’m still trying to catch up on Orange is the New Black.

Since I didn’t see the show, I have to rely on other television critics to inform me whether it’s worthy of my time and attention. Fortunately for me, Roxane Gay is on the job.

It can be very difficult to separate the art from the artist. In the case of Roseanne Barr and her critically acclaimed television show based on her life, it is nearly impossible. I wasn’t going to watch the reboot because I find Ms. Barr noxious, transphobic, racist and small-minded. Whatever charm and intelligence she brought to the first nine seasons of her show, a show I very much loved, are absolutely absent in her current persona, particularly as it manifests on Twitter. She is a supporter of Donald Trump, vocalizing her thoughts about making America great, claiming that with her vote, she was trying to shake things up. She tweets conspiracy theories, rails against feminism and shares Islamophobic opinions.

I refused to look at still lifes painted by Adolf Hitler for the same reason, so I can totally dig where Roxy (can I call you Roxy?) is coming from.

Where once she was edgy and provocative, she is now absurd and offensive. Her views are muddled and incoherent. She is more invested in banal and shallow provocation than engaging with sociopolitical issues in a thoughtful manner. No amount of mental gymnastics can make what Roseanne Barr has said and done in recent years palatable.

Engaging with sociopolitical issues in a thoughtful manner is really important, but I thought this show was a sitcom, not Wellesley docudrama.

As I watched the first two episodes of the “Roseanne” reboot, I thought again about accountability. I laughed, yes, and enjoyed seeing the Conner family back on my screen. My first reaction was that the show was excellent. But I could not set aside what I know of Roseanne Barr and how toxic and dangerous her current public persona is. I could not overlook how the Conner family came together to support Mark as he was bullied at school for his gender presentation, after voting for a president who actively works against the transgender community. They voted for a president who doesn’t think the black life of their granddaughter matters. They act as if love can protect the most vulnerable members of their family from the repercussions of their political choices. It cannot.

What does your inability to distinguish the actress in real life from the script have to do with anything, Roxy? Not that I’m questioning your lived experiences, obviously, but just because it seems in complete defiance of my white male logic.

This fictional family, and the show’s very real creator, are further normalizing Trump and his warped, harmful political ideologies. There are times when we can consume problematic pop culture, but this is not one of those times. I saw the first two episodes of the “Roseanne” reboot, but that’s all I am going to watch. It’s a small line to draw, but it’s a start.

Aha! So a television show about a deplorable that fails to sufficiently denigrate people who aren’t in harmony with your wokeness is only good for two episodes before it makes problematic pop culture politically unconsumable? I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your warning, and all the time it will save me from having to binge-watch Roseanne when I get done with The Wire.

24 thoughts on “Short Take: Roseanne Reboot, Reviewed

  1. wilbur

    So to summarize Roxanne Gay’s review, permit to express it in her own inimitable style.

    The show is somewhat OK, but Rosanne herself is fucking bullshit fuck shit fuck, et cetera. Don’t watch.

    How can you argue with that?

  2. Scott Jacobs

    Fortunately for me, Roxane Gay is on the job.

    Oh, no good ever comes from a sentence like that…

  3. Norahc

    I would just like to thank our esteemed host fir not including either Roxanne’s or Roseanne’s pictures in this post. Made it much easier to read.

  4. Beth Clarkson

    Where once she was edgy and provocative, she is now absurd and offensive.

    I don’t get this complaint. She was always absurd and offensive. It was the mainstay of her comedy before she was on TV.

  5. B. McLeod

    Somebody had turned the set to this show in the surgery waiting room as I was waiting for a family member to get out of surgery. From what I saw, I do not think it has the potential to “normalize” anything, let alone Trump.

    1. SHG Post author

      Normalize is a very cool word, so clearly you lacked sufficient wokiosity to appreciate its normalizationism.

  6. Nigel Declan

    Ms. Gay should take a page from Elvis and shoot her television set. Catharsis of discharging a firearm into a television set aside, she seems to be perpetually exhausted and upset by everything she watches (or contemplates other people watching) and anything that alleviates her anxiety and, by extension, keeps her out of the editorial section of the New York Times is a win-win by any measure.

  7. Jake

    To hell with Roseanne. A reboot of Three’s Company would have been funnier, more woke and more titillating. Hot pants for the win!

      1. REvers

        It was best watched with the sound turned down. Just like Charlie’s Angels and Baywatch.

        And Brittany Spears videos.

  8. WAN

    Normalization already occurred when Jimmy Fallon touched Trump’s hair, irretrievably tilting the election balance to him. Had Fallon had asked him a hard-hitting question, or had he publicly dis-invited him from the Tonight Show, we’d never have Trump or the Roseanne re-boot. And things would be hunky dory. And democracy safe.

  9. MonitorsMost

    Edgy and provocative when she is giving speeches at Occupying Wallstreet about sending bankers to concentration camps. Absurd and offensive when she supports Trump. Perhaps the right answer is she was crazy all along and you didn’t care when her craziness coincided with yours.

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