Roseanne and TV Myths About the Working Class

To start with: To hell with Roseanne Barr.

With her long career in show business, she has the money and power to send a message that reaches millions of people. She’s chosen to use that platform to spread racism, transphobia, right-wing conspiracy theories and support for Donald Trump.

Good riddance. Roseanne’s decade of right-wing tweets finally came back to haunt her when ABC announced that they would cancel the reboot of her 1990s show Roseanne — after her racist tweet against Valerie Jarrett, an adviser to Barack Obama.

Following the show’s cancellation, quite a few writers mourned the end of what many hoped would be the return of what the original Roseanne represented — one of precious few attempts to depict the everyday challenges of a working-class family.

Joan Williams, author of White Working Class: Overcoming Class Cluelessness in America, wrote in the Guardian:

In the current uproar in the U.S. over the abrupt cancellation of ABC’s hit TV show Roseanne because of a racist tweet by the show’s star Roseanne Barr, few have mentioned a crucial fact. Cancellation deprives American television of one of the only sympathetic depictions of white working-class life in the past half-century — in other words, since television began.

Barr’s horrendous behavior is to blame for getting the show that bears her name canceled. But a TV industry that would rather not tell stories about working-class people is to blame for the fact that Roseanne was one of the few shows that attempted to provide a look at the world from a working-class point of view.

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When Roseanne first went on the air in 1988-89, it was unique — the Conner family didn’t look like or act like anyone else on TV.

The TV industry’s prevailing view of working-class people was disdain at worst and condescension at best. Certainly there were no families like the Conners — sarcastic and often self-deprecating, with humor that aimed its fire at the…

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