The success of the return of “Roseanne” has reportedly stunned Hollywood and prompted TV network executives to do some “soul-searching” (or as some wags put it, to start searching for a soul.) With no lead-in, the debut drew a massive audience of over 18 million viewers, 10% higher than the series finale in 1997. Viewership actually rose as the show went on. But there’s even more narrative-smashing that has the networks reeling. Despite the leads being in their 60s and the original show being off the air for over 20 years, the show pulled huge numbers of young people who were kids or not even born when the original series aired.
Ordinarily, such good news would have the network suits popping champagne corks, not navel-gazing. But the reason for Hollywood's discombobulation is the shocking discovery that if they air a show that doesn’t harangue, insult and demean the 63 million Americans who voted for Trump – that doesn’t assume as an article of faith that everyone is simply devastated that Hillary Clinton didn’t get elected, and that her rightful ascension was blocked by a vast conspiracy of racists, sexists, homophobes, Islamophobes, xenophobes, inbred hillbillies, Russians and demure wives voting the way their husband told them to – that maybe people would actually watch that show, instead of fleeing by the millions, the way they have from the Oscars or late night “comedy” shows. Now the Hollywood powers are torn between their two most strongly-held principles: promoting socialism or making a big pile of money.
The “Roseanne” reboot showed that the Conners, a struggling, lower middle-class family from Illinois, voted for Trump because he talked about bringing back jobs after they nearly lost their home during the stagnant Obama years, and because their son and daughter-in-law were in the military, and because they thought Hillary was a “liar, liar, pants suit on fire,” as Roseanne put it. In real life, Roseanne Barr is no conservative, but she reflects the type of blue collar Democrats that the Democratic Party has abandoned and maligned. She also knows Trump and says he’s done a lot of nice things for her over the years; he even called to congratulate her on the new show’s success.
You can tell from the reviews how stunned entertainment writers were to discover that there might actually be non-subhuman beings on the planet who disagree with their politics for legitimate reasons. Even those who wrote good reviews felt it necessary to include disclaimers warning readers about some “uncomfortable” political lines (i.e., lines that actually made fun of Hillary and defended Trump, instead of the one-sided way things are supposed to be, inside their cast iron bubble.) But audiences were obviously starved for any show that accorded Middle American viewers even the slightest respect.
To be accurate, the show wasn’t really a defense of Trump at all. Roseanne’s sister Jackie provided the conflict by being an ardent Hillary supporter who ranted disparagingly against Trump. While Roseanne defended her vote by saying that Trump talked about bringing back jobs, there was no hint that he’d kept any of his promises. There was no mention of record low unemployment, a surge in new jobs, companies returning to the US and expanding, the tax cut and widespread bonuses, or the news that the latest quarterly growth number has been revised upward to 2.9%, close to the 3% that “experts” under Obama claimed was impossible (to be fair, under him, it was.) This morning, it was reported that jobless claims have dropped to their lowest level since 1973.
In the Conners’ world, everyone is still unemployed or underemployed and 50 people show up to apply for one menial job opening. Granted, there are still some areas struggling, but many employers are having a tough time finding people to fill all the openings. I guess that admitting that Trump is keeping some of his promises to blue collar workers would have been too much of a shock to Hollywood's sensibilities. The TV networks would have a tough time filling all their own job openings after all their liberal employees had brain embolisms. We have to be grateful just for baby steps.
The new “Roseanne” hardly depicts a one-sided conservative view. It’s filled with hot button liberal issues, from health care to biracial families to a grandson who’s “gender fluid.” But at least, characters with a more conservative view have a voice in the ongoing debate and are allowed to sound reasonable, which in itself is a major breakthrough – and maybe a necessary step in finally getting past the insulting and divisive stereotypes currently being pushed by the media and finally reaching some reconcilation.
If nothing else, you knew it wasn’t the typical network fare when Roseanne finally forgave her sister for voting for Hillary by telling her that she understands that she wants free government health care for everyone because she’s a nice person with a good heart “who can’t do simple math.” There hasn't been a line like that on ABC since they canceled Tim Allen's show -- for purely non-political reasons, of course.
First, the “Roseanne” reboot; now Hollywood liberals are bracing for what might be their next blast of cognitive dissonance, if the upcoming movie “Chappaquiddick” is a box office smash. The story of how Senator and Presidential frontrunner Ted Kennedy derailed his career by driving a car off a bridge and leaving campaign worker Mary Jo Kopechne to slowly suffocate and drown in a sinking car while he waited for hours to notify the authorities is finally coming to the big screen.
The stage-managed response that helped a Kennedy evade justice that would have been visited on anyone else less powerful and connected – and his subsequent depiction by Democrats as “the lion of the Senate” while they disgustingly described Chappaquiddick as a “Kennedy tragedy” – is one of America's worst examples of unequal justice. It’s cried out for a film treatment for years; but thanks to the liberal bent of Hollywood, nobody would touch it for fear it would be career suicide.
It might still be, despite the excellent performances in the film, particularly Jason Clarke as Ted Kennedy. But nothing inoculates you in Hollywood like having a hit. The presence of such well-known names as Bruce Dern, Jim Gaffigan and Ed Helms also suggests that maybe the media shield protecting the Kennedys has worn thin enough for truth finally to penetrate.
If so, as usual, CNN will be the last to know. The network sent out a tweet about the film, describing it as the story of “one of Sen. Ted Kennedy’s darkest hours.” Aw, poor Ted! Maybe they're referring to the cover of darkness under which he fled the scene of the accident while Mary Jo died a slow, agonizing death. It shows that the media are so conditioned to think a certain way that the horrible bias and irony of their own words didn’t even occur to them. Luckily, we now have Twitter, so the public could point it out in no uncertain terms.
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