“I like this idea that you can be completely different politically and still love each other. When you start talking to people that you think are different than you are, there are nuances to what they believe. I just think no one is hearing each other anymore. So I would hope that even if we just get a few people to start talking to each other, then we can affect some sort of change.”
— Sara Gilbert
When the premiere aired on March 27, and the reviews started pouring in on social media, I’m going to be completely honest, I silently judged those people on my friends list who watched it. How could they support this person who supported the most horrible and horrific man in America right now?
But perhaps more important to me was who was doing the watching and praising of the show — my LGBTQ friends, activists and other progressive hell-raisers.
A good friend and someone I respect deeply for his creativity and vision said this about Roseanne: “This show is once again not afraid of any topic. It’s about real families dealing with real issues, real [who]disagreements but still love each other.”
Then someone else who is an activist in our community, and someone I have personally worked with, said, “So I may not like her political beliefs … but I LOVED the Roseanne reboot!”
And I just couldn’t understand why these smart, extremely liberal humans weren’t just watching the show but praising it.
Which is why when I (finally) saw someone in my feed say exactly what I was feeling — “I’m not mad if you watch Roseanne. That’s your decision. I’m irritated if you watch Roseanne after boycotting Drag Race” — I jumped off my chair and screamed “YES FINALLY!” at my computer screen.
It strengthened my resolve and reason to not watch the show.
And then my wife mentioned it — which, of course, changed everything.
While I knew about the whole new modern premise of the show (Roseanne’s sister Jakie voted for Jill Stein while she herself voted for Trump, her daughter Darlene is gay, etc.), I didn’t know about DJ and his wife. My wife brought it to my attention that there was an episode in the ’90s Roseanne called “White Men Can’t Kiss,” and in the reboot he is now married to the black girl from that episode, who is currently in the military. That and her enthusiasm about watching the show piqued my curiosity. And I decided to watch ONE episode.
So I did. Then I watched the second the one. And now I’m hooked — and will be tuning in weekly.
Do I feel bad or ashamed about it? Nope. And here’s why.
Did Roseanne — the human — vote for Trump? She sure did. Is she a vocal and avid supporter of the man who is death to all progressive things, thoughts and ideas? Yes on that, too.
But is her character on her show a 30-minute unchallenged diatribe on the greatness of Trump? Nope. Is she using the show in some lame ass propaganda attempt to normalize Trump a la The Emmys and Sean Spicer? Not in the least.
In fact, Roseanne was the complete opposite of what I expected it to be.
And that reality Blew. Me. Away.
It reminded me that sometimes “progressive” and “liberal” mean that we have to open our minds instead of closing it; We have to let someone or something in so we can experience, see it for ourselves, instead of going into autopilot and shutting out and shutting down dissenting opinions because they don’t match our own.
I’m a bit floored by what I’m about to type next, but Roseanne (as it stands two episodes in) is a progressive show.
Now Roseanne herself might not be — who knows? I don’t know anything about her personally other than she voted for and supports Trump (a truth that comes with its own massive stereotypes). And before you ask: yes, the fact that she voted for the man who wants to deport every and anyone who looks like me or has a brown last name matters to me.
But what she is trying to normalize on her show — discussion, acceptance, love, equality and other liberal ideals and values — matters a helluva lot more. As does this reality: that Trumpers might have tuned because she is a Trump supporter expecting to see their bigoted selves and values mirrored on the big screen but instead got a lesson on how a parent/grandparent should love and support their gender-neutral non-binary child at home and in public. And that is a mighty big fucking win for inclusivity and trans acceptance and rights — way more than RuPaul and his Drag Race.
Because while Roseanne, the person, may have voted against diversity and inclusivity by voting for Trump, her show is in support of all those things. Its open, progressive, and — dare I say? — liberal. It’s an unexpected ally in the place where we ALL least expected to find it — a Trump supporter.
And the real tea is: While it’s a bit of tough pill for me to swallow, I’m open to seeing where this Trump-supporting-lead-actress and her show lead us, all of us.
Brandi Amara Skyy is a writer, drag artists, and host of The Drag Show Podcast. Listen to Episode 01: You Are Born Naked and the Rest is Drag … RIGHT?!? here.