On Tuesday night, Roseanne’s reboot premiered — and it blew up in the ratings. Fully 18.2 million Americans between the ages of 18-49 watched the show. It received a 5.1 rating. It was the best Tuesday night premier for ABC since 2006. Americans tuned in in shocking numbers.
Many conservatives are overjoyed at this — they see it as a cultural moment of great import, because Roseanne’s character is a Trump supporter. She shellacks Hillary on the show. Her sister, a purported Hillary supporter, couldn’t even bring herself to vote Hillary — she voted for Jill Stein.
Conservatives are celebrating because they believe that Roseanne is helping to cure the culture by depicting a Trump supporter as something other than a rube or an idiot. There’s some truth to this: Roseanne’s character is whip-smart and unwilling to take crap from anyone — she’s sort of a female mini-Trump in terms of personality.
But there’s something else going on in Roseanne that should disturb conservatives: the redefinition of Trump supporters as blue collar leftists rather than conservatives. Roseanne’s character is pro-gay-marriage, pro-abortion, feminist, and pro-transgenderism — and the implication is that she is a good person because of these views. The real difference between Trump voters and Hillary voters are economic in nature, not cultural.
This was the original concept of the Roseanne character. I interviewed Marcy Carsey, the woman behind the original Roseanne, for my book Primetime Propaganda. Carsey called herself a Democrat who grew up in an Eisenhower Republican household, and said that she understood Republicans, but that the show was written about working women: “A working-class heroine to represent the difficult lives that so many millions of women were leading.” Roseanne featured one of television’s earliest same-sex weddings, the title character considering abortion, the title character asking her virgin daughter to use birth control, her daughter Darlene using pot, speed, and acid, and the title character routinely and vulgarly describing genitalia.
Television hasn’t featured a respectful depiction of a typical Republican-voting woman in decades. And Roseanne isn’t it. Roseanne could just as easily have been a Bernie supporter as a Trump supporter, because she is a class heroine, not a cultural one — and the Left believes that the only path to unity between Right and Left is to cast out the cultural right. That’s what Roseanne does implicitly.
The first two episodes make this absolutely clear. First, Roseanne’s grandson is a cross-dressing seven-year-old — and every character accepts this as no problem in and of itself. The only problem with a seven-year-old boy wearing girls’ clothing to school is that he might get beaten up. There is no mention of the value of gender roles, no mention of guiding children through confusion. In fact, every joke is at the expense of anyone who would think such nefarious thoughts. By the end of the episode, even John Goodman, the dunderheaded granddad, is marveling at his grandson’s bravery for wearing girls’ clothing to school. (It’s worth noting that the show didn’t have the balls to actually suggest that the kid is transgender — he explicitly disavows this — because even Leftists know that most Americans would ask whether parents should humor children who believe they are members of the opposite sex.)
Meanwhile, Roseanne’s daughter is considering becoming a surrogate. But not just a surrogate — she wants to use her own eggs. Roseanne originally objects, but her daughter informs her that it’s her body and her choice, and Roseanne acknowledges the truth of that statement. This is an abortion argument, not truly a surrogacy one. In the old days, Roseanne would have just featured an abortion storyline, but the writers know that abortion isn’t too hot right now.
These are supposedly Trump supporters.
This is a Hollywood conceit. In Hollywood, you can say you voted for Trump because you thought Hillary was an elitist, and you wanted to try something else in terms of economic strategy. Libertarianism is seen as kooky but generally tolerable by the Hollywood crowd. But if you stand against abortion or say that same-sex marriage is not equivalent to traditional marriage or say boys can’t become girls and shouldn’t dress like them, you’re an evil Bible-thumper. The only kind of Trump supporters Hollywood will tolerate are those who cheer small boys dressing up as small girls — meaning Trump supporters who exist only in the minds of Hollywood creative types.
The vast majority of Trump’s support base was conservative, and objected to Hollywood values being crammed down their throats on issues ranging from same-sex marriage and abortion to feminism and transgenderism. Trump’s populism sprang directly from culture wars, not from economic issues: it sprang from anger at intersectional politics, coastal elitism, and disdain for traditional values. According to Roseanne, however, those concerns make you a deplorable. Which means that Roseanne is still preaching Hillary’s message, even if it pretends to hat-tip Trump supporters.