NEW KID IN TOWN: Roseanne rides again and that makes me happy

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I’m a nostalgia buff. Ask my favorite decades of music, and I’ll answer the ’70s and ’80s. Ask for my favorite decades of TV shows, and I’ll answer the ’80s and ’90s.

Maybe that’s why I enjoy seeing Roseanne back on TV on Tuesday nights.

When Roseanne was originally on ABC from 1988 to 1997, it was one of the most popular shows on TV, ranking in the top five shows its first six seasons on the air and remaining in the top 20 until its ninth and final season.

When it was on TV back then, I liked it — especially the first few seasons — but wasn’t a diehard fan. However, 20 years can change a lot, so when I learned Roseanne was coming back to prime-time TV, I was curious to see what it would be like.

After seeing the first seven episodes of the Roseanne revival, I have to say that I am impressed. However, I am also a bit surprised that the show is considered “right-wing TV” by many in America.

Granted, Roseanne Barr (and her character on the show, Roseanne Conner) both voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election; the first episode of Season 10 (as the revival of the show is called) focused on Roseanne’s feud with her sister Jackie over the 2016 presidential election, as Jackie supported Hillary Clinton.

That said, supporting Donald Trump does not make one a right-wing conservative — and Season 10 of Roseanne is definitely not a right-wing conservative show.

First off, Season 10 portrays members of the LGBTQ community in a sympathetic light, which is not surprising considering two of Roseanne Barr’s three real-life siblings are gay and Sara Gilbert (who portrays Roseanne Conner’s daughter, Darlene) is also a lesbian.

Another example is Darlene’s son, Mark, who is described as genderfluid, meaning that he is a 10-year-old boy who has a strong interest in fashion and often wears girls’ clothing. While Mark’s grandparents have concerns, including that he might be bullied, they are still loving and supportive of him.

Second, D.J. Conner, Roseanne Conner’s oldest son, is married to an African-American woman. D.J.’s daughter, Mary, is portrayed by African-American child actress Jayden Rey. So it’s a bit of a reach to accuse Roseanne of promoting racism, though Roseanne was criticized for remarks about fellow ABC sitcoms Black-ish and Fresh Off the Boat in Season 10’s third episode, “Roseanne Gets the Chair.”

“We missed all the shows about black and Asian families,” said Dan Conner (Roseanne’s husband) in that episode, referring to Black-ish and Fresh Off the Boat.

“They’re just like us,” Roseanne responded. “There, now you’re all caught up.”

While some who hold liberal views took offense at the exchange, I did not. At the end of the day, we are all Americans, regardless of race, creed, color or whatever, and we are all in this together.

Third, a recent episode of Roseanne, “Go Cubs,” featured a sympathetic portrayal of Roseanne’s Yemeni (and Muslim) neighbors, Samir and Fatima, and showed Roseanne Conner learning to move past her fears and prejudices toward them.

At the beginning of the episode, Roseanne feared they were terrorists, but she got to know them better when she awakened them in the middle of the night to ask for their WiFi password (which was “gocubs”). Later, when a grocery store cashier began belittling Fatima for her use of EBT and being Muslim, Roseanne went off on the cashier and promised to report her to her manager.

Rather than being a right-wing conservative show, Roseanne has portrayed tolerance toward Muslims, the LGBTQ community and people of color in America. And more than that, Roseanne is a nice trip down memory lane.

I enjoy seeing how Roseanne, Dan and the Conner kids have aged and evolved over time. Seeing characters on TV that were prominent decades ago also makes me feel younger — which is a plus for me, as I am in my mid-40s. To top it all off, Season 10 has brought back many other actors from the original run of the series, including Johnny Galecki as Darlene’s husband David Healy (Galecki also portrays Leonard Hofstadter, perhaps my favorite current TV character, on The Big Bang Theory).

Other returnees in Season 10 from the first nine seasons include Sandra Bernhard as Nancy Bartlett, Estelle Parsons as Roseanne’s mother, Natalie West as Crystal Anderson and James Pickens, Jr. as Chuck Mitchell. Also back is Sarah Chalke, who was one of the two portrayers of Roseanne’s daughter, Becky Conner, but is now another character.

Last but not least, Roseanne has the same sense of humor in Season 10 that it had when it was originally on the air. The show that made many of us laugh back then still makes me laugh now. And many Americans agree, as Roseanne is back in the top five of the ratings and may well finish the season as the No. 1 show on television.

As the cliche says, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

(Mike Buhler is the community editor at the Powell Tribune. Contact him at mike@powelltribune.com.)

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