“What’s up, Deplorable?”
That’s how self-described “proud Deplorable” Roseanne Barr’s title character was greeted by her pussy hat-wearing sister (two-time Emmy winner Laurie Metcalf) in the first episode of her rebooted sitcom Roseanne.
A record-breaking 18 million viewers tuned into ABC Tuesday night to watch the return of the 1990s queen of sitcom. After a 20-year absence, Barr revived her award-winning role as the matriarch of the working class Conner family of Lanford, Illinois. And Trump’s America found a champion.
After the 2016 election, Hollywood executives realized how ridiculously out of step they were with their audience. If the box office collapse and network television implosion wasn’t proof enough, the election of Donald Trump left no doubt they were clueless about life outside their media bubble.
Hillary’s loss came as a complete shock to them because, to paraphrase Pauline Kael’s infamous (and probably apocryphal) quote about Nixon’s 1972 victory, they didn’t know anyone who voted for Trump.
Well, actually, they did know at least one Trump voter: Roseanne Barr.
For a brief time following the election, Hollywood’s top brass tossed around the idea of reaching out to Trump’s forgotten men and women with targeted programming. Most of those early conciliatory gestures gave way to pussy hat protests, Russian conspiracies, and mass “un-friend-ings.” The #Resistance furthered the divide.
But one project did break through the political noise, as the entertainment industry turned to an old pro for guidance.
Unlike Hollywood executives and their counterparts on Wall Street and Capitol Hill, Roseanne Barr knew exactly why she and the rest of America voted for Trump. Last night’s Roseanne reboot gave a simple and honest answer to the befuddled studio execs and the finger-wagging #Resistance scolds.
No, Trump’s voters aren’t racist, sexist, xenophobic, self-hating, privileged, or duped by Russians. They are – to quote Barr’s sitcom daughter Becky (Lecy Goranson) – “stressed about money.” As Roseanne explains to her Hillary-supporting sister Jackie, Trump “talked about jobs. He said he’d shake things up. It might come as a complete shock to you, but we almost lost our house because of the way things were going.”
These reasons “might come as a complete shock” to bicoastal elites because the post-NAFTA plight of working class Americans has been ignored for the last 20 years. And perhaps it’s not coincidental that Barr’s sitcom has been absent for those two decades. When Roseanne debuted in 1988, it was rightly described as “groundbreaking” for its un-ironic and unapologetic warts-and-all depiction of a working class American family. Here at last was a non-idealized TV family that actually resembled the country. We’ve never met the Bradys. But we’ve all met families like the Conners. They weren’t airbrushed or sentimentalized or treated with condescension.
Coming from a working class background herself, Barr instinctively understands ordinary Americans and their struggles. “I’ve always attempted to portray a realistic portrait of the American people and of working-class people. And in fact it was working-class people who elected Trump,” Barr said of her series reboot. full story