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'Roseanne' is ugly, uncomfortable and distressing. Good.

The "Roseanne" reboot ...

Posted: May 29, 2018 11:09 PM
Updated: May 29, 2018 11:09 PM

The "Roseanne" reboot has reached 25 million viewers, surpassing even the audience for the iconic original run's finale in 1997. It was the strongest debut for any network television show this season - or any season for the past six years. But not everyone was ready to return to the blue-collar squalor of Lanford, Illinois.

Overnight, a cottage industry of criticism and vows to boycott popped up. People who usually pride themselves in the mantra that love trumps hate were calling Roseanne Barr a "garbage person" over her support for Donald Trump. Some of them were flaunting their prejudice, prejudging the show without watching any of it. Many of these repudiators, nearly entirely liberals, were bragging about a willful blind spot.

Here's a fun fact about social progress: It is painful and difficult. It is not a flipbook of our likes, comforts, and feel-good instaquotes. It is not achieved with galas. People are entitled to tune out whatever they want - and the entitled ones very much do - but what good is someone who doesn't listen to Chris Brown because of his abusive history with Rihanna if they don't listen to any music? What good is a supporter of Colin Kaepernick if they still tune in to root for their team to win every Sunday even with him out of the league?

Lots of liberals didn't want to watch "Roseanne." No matter what. Fine. That's their right. But ask those people: What *do* they watch? Maybe they would flock to the opposite of "Roseanne," if only such a show existed. As it turns out, it does.

Norman Lear's Netflix update of "One Day At a Time" features Penelope -lvarez, a gun-toting Cuban-American single mother and Army veteran, struggling to raise her son and lesbian daughter in the grit of Los Angeles on a shoestring budget with the help of her immigrant mom, played with the incomparable EGOT talent of Rita Moreno. "One Day At A Time" runs like state television from the Democratic National Convention. One episode centers on Penelope being stranded on hold with Veterans Affairs. Another portrays her struggle with depression and stigma in her community. The audience sees a school friend of her daughter's get deported and her daughter herself attend her quincea-era in a suit instead of a dress. The show highlights the hardships of the bilingual son whose skin tone registers as Latino while the daughter, whose Spanish is shaky, grapples with passing as white. Viewers need to be bilingual themselves to get all the jokes.

It is all absolutely riveting. And virtually unwatched.

Sure, it got renewed for a third season but only after an explicit campaign -- a plea, really -- by the show's creators to "PLEASE watch & tell friends & family to watch at least FOUR episodes in the next few days ... PLEASE WATCH!" Similarly, Randall Park, the star of "Fresh Off The Boat," the only all-Asian sitcom on television (now that "Dr. Ken" has been canceled), begged for his job -- literally, "I'm begging you, ABC." In a video, he got on his knees and clasped his hands in prayer, the way you've never seen Tim Allen or Matthew Perry or Sarah Jessica Parker or even anyone on "Will & Grace" do.

For comparison, "Fresh Off The Boat" pulls in 3 million to 4 million viewers per episode. "Black-ish" pulls in a similar audience, although sometimes pops up to 5 million or 8 million viewers. The only network show to pull in "Roseanne"-level numbers was a recent episode of NBC's "This Is Us" viewed by 33 million people, but with a hefty assist of a post-Super Bowl time slot. Roseanne scores ratings touchdowns on her own.

On the third episode of the "Roseanne" reboot, the star falls asleep watching ABC, missing "Black-ish" and "Fresh Off The Boat." "They're just like us. There, now you're all caught up," she reassures her television husband, Dan. The glib joke gave fresh fodder to the self-righteous boycotters. How dare she insult those diversity stalwarts?! But, really, how dare people take umbrage at her insult of a show many of them can't be bothered to watch?

What is happening here, exactly? Are liberals so busy lapping up every second of Donald Glover's groundbreaking "Atlanta" that they're too busy to watch any other show remotely like it? Its debut season last year averaged 5.2 million viewers, the best ratings of any comedy on cable in the past year. Is "Atlanta" their token diversity viewing and they don't have room for any more? The Nielsen version of "I would've voted for a third term of Obama"?

When he won an award for "Master of None," co-creator Alan Yang cheered: "Thank you to all the straight white guys who dominated movies and TV so hard and for so long that stories about anyone else seem kind of fresh and original now." Straight white people took that criticism to heart.

And now we have "Roseanne," whose blockbuster debut two-part episode focuses on a grandson who wants to wear traditionally feminine clothes to school and gets in trouble at school when he brandishes a pocket knife his grandfather gives him for protection, a grandfather whose daughter reminds him he had no qualms with her gender-norm-defying, tomboy youth. Where is that nuanced look at the other side of the political fence anywhere in the popular liberal television landscape, which is broadly comprised of prestige-cable period dramas and fantasy escapism? "Game of Thrones"' seventh season last year pulled in roughly 30 million viewers per episode. But what good does that crowd do? What does the show accomplish other than vacation booms in Croatia and Spain?

The exploration of the transgender and working class experience on Roseanne are nowhere on other shows. Ru Paul doesn't want transgender contestants on "Drag Race." And the transgender experience is utterly invisible to the fab five of the "Queer Eye" reboot. The "Will & Grace" reboot ignores New York's tortured class warfare of gentrification because the entire cast *is* the gentry. And how long can liberal viewers coast on the piercing, viral wokeness of Tom Hanks' Trump-supporting role on "Saturday Night Live's" "Black Jeopardy"?

"Roseanne" is ugly, uncomfortable, and distressing. Good. That prickly embrace is how democracy and diversity and cosmopolitanism work. You are not going to like everything on the menu at that new Vietnamese or Indian or Oaxacan restaurant in your neighborhood. If liberals want escapist television, that's their right. But who are they to scold Trump voters for not being glued to every earnest, civic-minded episode they themselves can't be bothered to watch? That's the pot calling the kettle black-ish. In this renaissance of the finely crafted politics of hate - surely there's a word for that, no? partisanal? - we need to engage the fullness of otherness and its place in our society, not a filter of it. "Roseanne" is many things to many people. Who she is to you says more about you than it does about her.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 513622

Reported Deaths: 10264
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34892556
DeSoto33234432
Hinds32638641
Jackson24854389
Rankin22507403
Lee16337242
Madison14922283
Jones14113247
Forrest13766259
Lauderdale12270324
Lowndes11305193
Lamar10659140
Pearl River9719244
Lafayette8846143
Hancock7836132
Washington7550169
Oktibbeha7210138
Monroe7010179
Pontotoc6990109
Warren6863178
Panola6759134
Neshoba6730210
Marshall6678141
Bolivar6445151
Union638297
Pike5928156
Alcorn5879107
Lincoln5530136
George510180
Prentiss503884
Tippah491482
Itawamba4844107
Scott477899
Adams4768125
Tate4756116
Leflore4729144
Copiah456495
Yazoo456491
Simpson4546117
Wayne443072
Covington433695
Sunflower4299106
Marion4277112
Coahoma4237109
Leake413990
Newton395781
Tishomingo383593
Grenada3777109
Stone365866
Jasper340666
Attala338290
Winston317892
Chickasaw315467
Clay312278
Clarke301195
Calhoun285049
Holmes271889
Smith269052
Yalobusha243947
Tallahatchie231553
Greene224749
Walthall221666
Lawrence218740
Perry213456
Amite209857
Webster205348
Noxubee188742
Montgomery181657
Carroll174541
Jefferson Davis173643
Tunica163239
Benton152939
Kemper145041
Choctaw136727
Claiborne134338
Humphreys131239
Franklin125529
Quitman107628
Wilkinson105939
Jefferson96934
Sharkey65221
Issaquena1957
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 845284

Reported Deaths: 16116
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1161552006
Mobile742111380
Madison53307732
Shelby38338368
Baldwin38085589
Tuscaloosa36022641
Montgomery34492781
Lee25562263
Calhoun22586518
Morgan22459406
Etowah20018517
Marshall18782316
Houston17731425
St. Clair16884358
Limestone16148218
Cullman16054303
Elmore15904294
Lauderdale14989306
Talladega14196299
DeKalb12972269
Walker12030380
Blount10717192
Autauga10517157
Jackson10162194
Coffee9417192
Colbert9342208
Dale9020191
Tallapoosa7256201
Russell708165
Chilton7018170
Escambia6957143
Covington6933195
Franklin6342108
Chambers5784142
Marion5406130
Dallas5285209
Pike5119109
Clarke484986
Lawrence4826129
Winston4780110
Geneva4642136
Bibb434094
Barbour369580
Butler3435100
Marengo342493
Monroe337266
Randolph334867
Pickens333188
Fayette330385
Henry320666
Hale318389
Cherokee317863
Crenshaw260477
Washington257052
Cleburne254460
Lamar251453
Clay250869
Macon244864
Conecuh192862
Coosa185047
Lowndes178168
Wilcox177438
Bullock152645
Perry141840
Sumter139241
Greene130245
Choctaw93228
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