Wednesday, March 28, 2018

My Thoughts on the "Roseanne" Revival

I was one of the 18 million people who watched the "Roseanne" revival series on ABC last night. I was pressured by a lot of people in my circle of online friends to boycott the series because of Roseanne Barr's support of President Trump and various right-wing conspiracies.

I just couldn't do it. I was a fan of the original "Roseanne" series back in the 80s and 90s and I wanted to at least give it a chance.

I'm glad that I did.

"Roseanne" felt like "Roseanne." I don't know how to say it any differently. It's 20 years later and the Conner household still feels the same. Roseanne and Dan each rule portions of their household with an iron fist. There is non-stop bickering, but it's clear that they love each other dearly. And yet it's clear that time has passed and the family has evolved.

As the revival series begin, Darlene has moved back home with her two kids, Harris and Mark, obstensibly to care for her aging parents. However, she has no job or money and they're looking out for her as much as she's looking out for them. Becky is a struggling widow. Husband Mark died sometime between the end of the original program and the beginning of the revival and she's now barely eking out a living at a bar. She recently agreed to act as a surrogate mother for a woman named Andrea (who believes that she's 33-years-old) in exchange for $50,000 -- and the Conners are pissed about it! Then there is DJ, who's caring for his daughter Mary while his wife finishes out her tour of duty in Syria. And youngest son Jerry is working on a fishing boat in Alaska -- not to be seen in this season the program!

We learn early on that Roseanne and Jackie haven't spoken since the 2016 US election. Roseanne voted for Trump and Jackie voted for Stein and neither of them quite got over the political rancor. Fortunately, Darlene mediates a reconciliation in the first episode.

One of the more compelling character developments within the program is the inclusion of Mark Healy, Darlene's young gender nonbinary son. Mark is 10-years-old and enjoys wearing traditionally female clothing -- particularly because he likes how the colors and styles "pop" compared to traditionally male clothing. But he identifies as a boy, as revealed during one interesting interaction between Mark and Roseanne:
Roseanne: I'm taking you to school, but I want to talk to you first... Okay, I'm going to ask you something kind of adult, but you're growing up and I think you can handle it. Do you... feel like you're a boy or a girl? 

Mark: A boy!

Roseanne: Well, you answered that pretty quick. I thought it was going to be more complicated! So what's up with the girls clothes?

Mark: This just feels like me. I like colors that pop. It's more creative. 

Roseanne:  Well, your mom's creative so I get that. But here's the thing... You've got to pick your fights in life. How important is this to you? 

Mark:  It's important. 

Roseanne:  Okay. You know it's going to be rough on you in school, right?

Mark: *nods*

Roseanne: But we'll back you up. *Hugs*
His grandparents are worried about how others perceive him, as does Darlene. However, Darlene urges them to let him work it out. And he will. Regardless of how others might prefer that he do it.

Now everyone is talking about Roseanne being a Trump supporter. It's true. I've already written about why that makes sense. Now people want to boycott her program because of that support. But they're missing the point. It's not about her supporting Trump. It's about introducing everyday sensibilities into the life of this everywoman that is Roseanne Conner -- and let's face it... There's a large percentage of working class Republicans throughout small town America who are betting on Trump and the Republican majority to turn this country around economically.

More importantly, "Roseanne" is about using those everyday happenings and creating tension and conflict between Roseanne and the people around her, such as the political grudge match between Roseanne and Jackie, or Dan struggling to cope with a grandson who like skirts and fingernail polish.

I tuned in to the "Roseanne" revival to give it a chance. I'll stick with the "Roseanne" revival because I really like where it's heading so far.

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