A Little Ditty About Dan and Roseanne

Tonight, after a 20 year hiatus, the 90’s sitcom staple Roseanne returns to network television. The critics, fresh from their advance viewing, have done their part and the internet is awash in reviews. As expected, opinions are mixed but the details being reported appear to be consistent. The father of the Conner family, Dan, it turns out is not dead and, in the years since we last met, life has churned relentlessly on. The middle and most problematic child in the original series, Darlene, appears to be once again at the center of the action and is back at her parents’ with her kids in tow in the wake of a divorce. Her older sister Becky, meanwhile, is a widow – the actor who had played her husband, Mark, in the original series has passed away – and the youngest of the Conner’s three children, DJ, has married a person of color. The situation appears to be set and the comedy will surely flow but the cherry on top of it all – and it’s the one fact that the papers are simply up in arms about – is that Roseanne is a Trump supporter.

Roseanne was an unlikely hit when it first hit the airwaves in 1989. Based on the standup comedy of Roseanne Barr, who spoke about the everyday life of the American housewife in the snarkiest of terms while referring to herself as a “domestic goddess,” the show was distinctly different from family sitcoms that dominated the airwaves at the time. Instead of the usual light escapism, Roseanne was shockingly real in its depiction of the American working class. Money was scarce, the kids weren’t well adjusted and the mom and dad weren’t thin or good looking. No, as it was for millions of Americans, life for the Conners was a struggle and the humor, which came most often in the form of biting sarcasm, was the family’s coping mechanism.

Of course, the show evolved over the years and as Roseanne herself – the actual person not the character she played in the show – changed and grew as a person the series followed her interests. The results of those changes, which often appeared to be quite sudden and volatile to those of us who followed Roseanne’s real life in the tabloids, didn’t always reflect well on the series itself but no matter where the show went one thing was certain – the Conner family was always a cohesive unit.

Of course Roseanne was unquestionably the star of the show but, as a man and member of the working class myself, I was always particularly grateful for the way they handled the role of Dan Conner. Roseanne may have been the boss of the house but, perhaps due to the physicality of John Goodman, her husband was no wimpy lapdog. At a time when so many male roles were being denuded, and once respected fathers were being turned into mindless boobs ala Homer Simpson, the character of Dan Conner solidly bucked that trend. No matter the situation, Dan and Roseanne were equal partners and their power as parents was fully shared. Like Roseanne, Dan had his struggles, lean times and failed business ventures among them, but like tens of thousands of working class men all across the country, he got back up every time life knocked him down. Having been there and done that myself, I can tell you that the way that character was written and acted was not made-up TV bullshit.

Despite all the time that has passed, the world Roseanne portrayed remains a very real place today. So why then are the critics agog over the fact that people like the Conners are Trump supporters? Is it because the entertainment industry is supposed to relentlessly spout liberal values and support liberal candidates? If it is, the critics are clearly missing the point. The Conners, and millions of Americans just like them, are a mishmash of values some liberal and some conservative. Like most people, they take life one day at a time while doing the very best they can, and like many in the working class, they are a little dismayed with the rhetoric coming out of the left side of the political spectrum. I know how they feel because, despite my continued affirmations that I myself stand left-of-center, I too find myself pretty dismayed at times.

People like me, and the Conners, haven’t been represented by the political elite for a long time and nothing made that clearer than the last presidential election. Early in the campaign, the Democratic candidate wrote off entire states as lost and, as a result, made zero effort to engage the people that live and work there. That candidate followed the same pattern in battleground states, appealing to people firmly in her camp in the big cities while making zero effort to engage with people in more rural districts. She deemed those people insignificant and, to her detriment, she utterly ignored them as she flew over flyover country again and again.

Donald Trump, meanwhile, did not. And although I and a great many of my working class brethren knew that the billionaire businessman was feeding us line after line of bullshit, we appreciated that he came out and talked with us. Although the media would tell you otherwise, we are not stupid and we were not duped. Our hope was that the Republican candidate would take some of our concerns with him to Washington and, while and we recognized that the odds were slim, we found them better than the ones presented by the candidate who simply ignored us. So, when election day arrived, there was only one real choice for the forgotten working class and, like it or not, when the time came they exercised what they saw as their only real option.

So, I won’t be surprised when politics goes on display in the Roseanne revival. It is a part of the national discussion and it makes sense within the context of the characters of Dan and Roseanne Conner. I haven’t seen a single preview but I can tell you this: Money will still be scarce, the kids and the grandkids won’t be well adjusted, and the grandma and grandpa won’t be especially thin or good looking. Life will still be a struggle and the humor, which will come most often in the form of biting sarcasm, will still be a coping mechanism. The show will be shockingly real and, for the first time in decades, the working class will once again see itself accurately reflected on the TV screen.

24 Replies to “A Little Ditty About Dan and Roseanne”

  1. ScottS

    A great synopsis of the changes to the political landscape since the last Rosanne episode. You are correct that most Americans hold views both liberal and conservative. The seismic political shift that largely took place during the Obama era caused me, and I’m sure many others, to critically examine many of those beliefs, and to make firm choices. One example is my fairly liberal views on same-sex relationships. Not wanting to push my personal beliefs on others for most of my life, I have been very tolerant of the constant push to make the homosexual lifestyle mainstream. When the President decreed that public school restrooms would be transgender or risk losing federal funding, I was forced to choose sides in the debate and the choice was now crystal clear. It will be interesting to see how the new Rosanne handles these white-hot issues.

    Reply
  2. hank chinaski

    I wouldn’t get my hopes up and I’m surprised they let her back in at all. If it does well and faithfully follows the old formula I’m going to Burbank to pitch a buddy cop show starring Adam Baldwin and James Woods.

    A group lied to as often as the working class had to expect more than a little lip service, but it’s better than the open contempt displayed by the other team.

    Reply
    • dejal

      I’m surprised that they are taking another shot at this.

      Goodmans had a pretty good movie career and I would have thought that would have been enough for him.

      4-5 movie parts a year on average. Dependable.
      Money must be pretty good for them to do it to put up with the grind if the show is sucessful.

      Reply
  3. Disinterested-Observer

    One of the few things that was decent about “That 70’s Show” was that at least it wasn’t set in NY or LA. There was also a funny bit about flying cars when the patriarch lost his job.

    Reply
  4. CJinSD

    Still Standing bought the farm because the networks didn’t want a single dissenting voice in primetime. I will be surprised if Roseanne is back next season.

    Reply
  5. BlueovalDave

    Nothing gets on the propaganda machine unless maybe it has the potential to control the opposition. They will have to control the disgruntled masses and get them to follow a Pied Piper off a cliff. then the compliant SJW dolts will be all the easier to control. i expect the plot line will eventually make Rosanne look stupid and the liberal line look like the true path.

    Reply
  6. George Denzinger (geozinger)

    I’ve never been able to stomach (ha!) Roseanne, either as a stand up comic or the TV show. How she got a TV show, but other worthy female comedians of the time didn’t get a show, is beyond me.

    Right now, “Trump” is a trigger word across a very wide swath of the country. Love him or hate him, the people running the Roseanne TV show were astute to include this idea as part of the show. People on both sides of the love/hate Trump divide will tune in to see what the writers have come up with. Good for ratings, for a while, at least until the story ideas run out, like they do with every sitcom. Or until this particular tack irritates both sides of the love/hate Trump divide and then no one wants to see what Roseanne (or their writers) has to say.

    Reply
  7. John C.

    I thought the show was quite good last night. Having the sister mouth the liberal line and having them banter in a funny but poignant way worked. Reminded me of Archie and the Meathead when I was a kid.
    The story line of Becky wanting to rent out her womb was argued by all the females. And then Dan says, “Doesn’t anyone want my opinion?”, Silence, “Anyone?” More silence. He walked out. Roseanne then says she will talk to him after he has a few beers. Life for American males in more than a few families.

    Reply
    • Thomas KreutzerThomas Kreutzer Post author

      I remember All in the Family involving a lot more acrimony. Most of the time, Archie was set up as a fall guy and it seems to me that the point of the show was to poke fun at his ignorance. To Norman Lear’s credit, however, All in the Family’s spin-off, Maude, was the exact opposite set-up and liberal biases were skewered. While both shows were preachy – hell, almost all of Norma Lear’s shows were preachy – I strongly believe they helped facilitate a national discussion.

      I’m really sorry I wasn’t able to watch the show itself, but I’m glad that you included your thoughts on it. So often, television critics run far afield and I have ben shocked at how many great shows receive poor marks. It’s great they are tackling these sorts of discussions head on. I think they happen around a great many of our nation’s kitchen tables. It’s a wonder they don’t appear on television more often.

      Reply
      • John C.

        You are correct about the national discussion. Archie heard things from the Meathead that he was not going to hear on the loading dock and vice versa. Remember liberal minded Carol 0Conner being surprised how many identified with Archie. The key was in that having both sides stated with humor so that everyone can hear, not freak out and absorb. So much better than preaching to the halleluiah choir.

        Reply
  8. stingray65

    I am so tired of politically correct (leftist) shows, that I basically haven’t turned the TV on yet in 2018. I have really grown tired of the relentless stream of: Crime shows where the bad guys are always white business men, where the 105 lb (looks like a super model) woman cop runs down, fights, and cuffs three 245 lb former Navy Seals (who have gone bad because of Bush, Trump, corporate greed, etc.) without suffering a bruise or messing her hair, and where Muslims, gays, transgenders, and illegal immigrants are always the good guys. Comedy shows where they only make fun of white, conservative, heterosexual males or evangelical “church” ladies. News shows that devote entire programs to hard hitting exposes on any rumored misdeed of Republicans, but can’t find any time to critically look at the weaponized IRS, DOJ, FBI, CIA, or Clinton crime machine. Sports programs that spend more time covering BLM and Trump resistance than the actual game being broadcast.

    On the other hand, a show about normal people where the father and sons aren’t idiots, the mother and daughters aren’t perfect, where characters have respect for the military and accept that DJT is the president? Like Fox News, such a show would have to survive on a niche audience consisting of about 75% of the US public.

    Reply
    • Thomas KreutzerThomas Kreutzer Post author

      It’s amazing how many tired tropes get used in television programs these days. It’s just lazy writing.

      Thank God for Me TV.

      Reply
      • stingray65

        It isn’t amazing at all. You squadrons of humanities majors that have been indoctrinated by leftist professors for 4-6 years, who hurriedly move from Hicksville to Hollywood so they can finally unleash their creative abilities to write scripts for TVs and movies, and where they are surrounded by other people just like them. Of course they will write shows that see the world as they see it – where the evil white heterosexual Christian patriarchy is constantly keeping down all the victim groups: females, everyone of color, non-traditional gendered, illegals – where capitalism is evil and government control is the solution – where religion is terrible evil unless if it is Muslim – where Democracy is suspect unless the people vote Democrat or further left and Hillary or Bernie are president.

        And of course if some right leaning person manages to sneak into Hollywood they will be ostracized or harassed until they “get with the program” or leave town and head back to Hicksville where such racist, mysogynistic, narrow-minded people belong. Otherwise the major risk in letting a program such as the Trump supporting Roseanne reboot get on the air is that is will almost certainly pop their leftist bubble by getting massive ratings (as it did).

        Reply
  9. Thomas KreutzerThomas Kreutzer Post author

    Sorry for the choppy writing in the original draft and for the way that any of my correction may have altered the thoughts presented. I dashed this off last night at the kitchen table while dealing with a sick dog and screaming kids that were being pushed through bath time and into pajamas. I also realize that the show may have been on the air when this finally hit the front page, but it’s still news to me. Hopefully, the new show has the bite and wit of the old without all of Roseanne’s old antics to take attention away from the overall affirmation of the working class.

    Reply
  10. MrFixit1599

    I haven’t watched it yet, but from what I have been told, I’m Dan. Most of my family knows better than to try and talk to me right after i get home from work. Let me down a few beers, then i am open to conversation. Just like some people need coffee first thing in the morning, I need a few beers after work.

    Reply
  11. Dirty Dingus McGee

    I think one thing folks need to keep in mind is that Roseanne is an actress. In real life, she seems to be about as conservative as Bernie or any Kennedy. Given that, and I bet every writer on the show has a liberal bent, we will see where the show goes.
    My TV viewing consist’s of the Weather Channel, Smithsonian Channel, occasional Mav TV and occasional FS1 or 2 for NHRA, so my input on it will be limited. As for all other TV programming; Pfffffttt.

    Reply
  12. -Nate

    I hope this show makes it too, as a Blue Collar typ my entire life I applaud showing how the average hard pressed to survive American lives .

    I hate TV with a passion so I rarely ever watch it and only watched the original Rosanne Show a couple – three times late in it’s run but I still liked it .

    Some here need to quit the endless dog whistle bullshit, it’s as tiresome as your dishonest rants are and do not help the Conservative cause .

    -Nate

    Reply
  13. David Florida

    TV, the drug of the nation
    Breeding ignorance and feeding radiation

    Despite (or perhaps because of) the influence of The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, I only watch with my elementary-aged children. Then only to ask questions aimed at fostering critical thinking. We’ve taken note of behavior which was obviously scripted to increase drama. I will have to check the guidance on ‘Roseanne’ and see how it might fit in…

    Reply
    • -Nate

      THANK YOU for being an involved parent ! .

      It’s hard to find the time but the rewards are greater than you can imagine .

      Critiacl thinking has deliberately been removed from all Public School curriculum to the detriment of America .

      -Nate

      Reply
  14. tyates

    I think many people on the left still have a major blind spot and don’t understand exactly why Trump was elected so it’ll definitely be interesting to see how the show handles the issues and what the response. I started reading Pat Buchanan’s well written articles on immigration and free trade back when he was the most ostracized man in politics and educated people of both parties just weren’t supposed to worry about stuff like offshoring, outsourcing, etc.

    Of course years later, with Lou Dobbs building a huge audience around these topics and then Trump running and winning as a Republican, you would think that the political impact and increased acceptance of these traditionally populist issues would be at least acknowledged – and yet it hasn’t. And indeed Trump is still facing the highest level of resistance not on stuff like tax reform, appointing conservative judges, etc, but on immigration and free trade.

    Reply
  15. rpn453

    I’m glad you made this post or I wouldn’t have known they’re back. I’ll check it out with the DVR.

    It was one of the better sitcoms of my youth. The characters seemed realistic and it’s nice to recall a male character who wasn’t incompetent or wimpy. Dan was a beast of a man. When I think of Dan Conner, I always picture the scene where Jackie is either a police officer or training to be a police officer and tries to show off her physical combat training by executing a judo throw on Dan. But he just lifts her up with one arm instead.

    Reply

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