There’s Nothing to Learn from Roseanne Herself, but Plenty to Learn from her Show

Roseanne is a wacko. I don’t say that lightly. Watching her show in my childhood with my mother was something I enjoyed. Her show was funny. More importantly, the show represented something I identified with- blue collar American life. Hence, I call Roseanne Barr a wacko very reluctantly.

Let’s not mince words though, Roseanne the actual person has become something terrible. I find it disappointing, but not some mortal sin that she supported Donald Trump in 2016. You have to grant people some slack for their politics, even when they involve supporting ignorance. What I can’t grant her is any slack for supporting conspiracy theories. Her dabbling in supporting the insane online conspiracy theory of “#PizzaGate” is just a bridge too far for me. The crazy theory is that a DC area pizza shop was the host of a child sex ring run by the likes of Hillary Clinton and John Podesta. There is absolutely zero evidence of this theory. It was created by an anonymous troll. The conspiracy theory caused a crazed gunman to go to Comet Ping Pong Pizza in Washington, DC, nearly causing a violent incident, and eventually landing him in jail. It’s one thing to vote for an ignorant bigot. It’s a next step into the wilderness to take part in conspiracies that nearly caused violence.

For as easy as it is to dismiss Roseanne Barr the person, it is less easy to dismiss the television character and show. The character Roseanne is one of the 62 million Trump voters, and actually depicts the part very well. She bought into his messaging. She believes supportive news about Trump is real news. She cites economic anxiety as a reason for her vote. The part is played well. How well? The ratings are super high. They’re particularly strong in markets like Pittsburgh, the types of “flyover country” markets that made Trump President.

Deconstructing the value of Roseanne Barr herself is fairly irrelevant. I don’t believe her or her show will matter in the 2018 Election. The disconnect those of us on the left currently feel towards the people watching her show will matter. The heated disagreement in this country, depicted in the rhetoric of the show, will matter. The inability of Democrats to speak to those “heartland” media markets could stop an otherwise “blue wave” from happening. That’s the story to take away from here.

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