Sean Hannity tried to join up with Roseanne Barr in a Twitter battle against a journalist who put his finger on the real problem with the comedienne’s new sitcom, but it was the journalist who got in the last, best shot.
Jared Yates Sexton was a big Roseanne fan as a kid growing up in a mostly white town in Indiana, he recalls in an article for Elle with the headline: “The New Roseanne Ignores the Very Real Racism of Many White Working-Class Families.”
While the Roseanne of 20 years ago was about a real working-class family, Sexton charges that the new incarnation is made for Trump propaganda:
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“This new Roseanne is a dream machine for someone like Steve Bannon, who worked so hard to convince potential voters that supporting Donald Trump didn’t mean they were prejudiced.
“It reinforces Trump voters’ defense against cognitive dissonance and gives them an idealized version of themselves,” continues Sexton, “that allows them to dismiss any fear that they might be intolerant.”
Sexton noted in a tweet that since the article came out he has heard from a number of “people” at ABC, the Disney-owned network which broadcasts the show, about how he has touched on concerns they too harbor. Though after the premier pulled in a whopping 21 million viewers, no executive will discuss it. His Tweet prompted a sharp response from Ms. Barr herself:
oh, really? which episode r they uncomfortable about? the one where we get a dog or my mom gets a boyfriend or I drive for uber or darlene gets a new job or david comes back? which ones monetize trump's base?
— Roseanne Barr (@therealroseanne) April 1, 2018
That was enough to send Fox News’ egomaniacal non-journalist Sean Hannity riding to Barr’s aide with an article on his own website.
— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) April 2, 2018
“Iconic television actress Roseanne Barr unloaded on a political reporter this weekend; slamming the journalist after he accused ABC staffers of feeling “uncomfortable” with her show’s “racist working-class family,” read the article on Hannity’s website, describing Barr as “fuming after a recent article published in Elle Magazine viciously attacked her smash-hit.”
But Hannity was too quick to pull the trigger because Sexton coolly replied with his own tweet burying the knife of truth even deeper into Barr’s fuming unhappiness.
The one where your character’s support of Donald Trump was framed simply as an economic choice. They have real concern this is sanitizing a really problematic worldview and dismissing the inherent bigotry. https://t.co/JN8lGIDxOf
— Jared Yates Sexton (@JYSexton) April 1, 2018
In his article for Elle, Sexton explains what he means even more clearly. He says that on the old Roseanne, the fights between characters were personal and reflected the place each one finds in that world.
On the new Roseanne, he writes, “the fights no longer resemble reality. The debates are all about ‘jobs’ and ‘healthcare’ and never once veer into the subjects of race or intolerance.”
These debates are going on in American homes today, leaving many of Trump’s most fervent supporters with only Fox News’ lineup of Trump-friendly programming to point to when confronted with facts. With the return of a Trump-loving Conner family, America’s most die-hard racists now have a network sitcom to reference when defending their positions.
“The reboot of Roseanne actively avoids those troubling waters, while debates about jobs and healthcare often stand-in for less-PC opinions in the real world, in the Conner’s kitchen, there’s absolutely no subtext.
” …watch as they dote on their multiracial grandchild… another grandchild actively challenges gender binaries, wearing skirts and flashy fabrics, and despite some quiet grousing about conforming, they actively support him.
“The dark underbelly of the white, working-class, the intolerance that permeates so much of their lives, is completely absent, and that absence can serve a dangerous purpose: to reinforce the delusion that they’re actually supporting somebody like Donald Trump for honorable reasons.”
It is not a surprise that Hannity, who defends whatever Trump does, finds a kinship in Roseanne Barr. No doubt Hannity also harbors some of the same dark conspiracy theories that Barr has been known to float in her off-hours.
The ratings success of Roseanne – especially in middle America – has conservatives claiming the success represents the “good” side of the Trumpian nightmare; that he really is the champion of the working class, and his laundry list of vulgar activity is merely a by-product of a man driven to “speak his mind,” regardless of what “snowflakes” he insults in the process.
It seems likely that her ratings resulted heavily from nostalgia, and that like the justification of Trump’s maniacal behavior, interest and support for the series will wane. As Sexton puts it so well, Roseanne, like Fox News, relies on false hope and a cynical hype that is destroying the very country is falsely claims to save.