Roseanne Barr the door

I grew up when two of the most popular television shows were Father Knows Best and Leave it to Beaver.  Both of them portrayed conventional American families in an idealistic light but also families confronting real social and moral issues.  The main themes involved honesty and honor, hard work and loyalty.

Most of today's television series are so abysmally immoral that, even as an adult, I found that I was too embarrassed to watch them with my parents.  The main themes seem to be disrespect, hedonism, and various forms of perversion.  I changed the channel to keep my children away from them.   I knew that the kids were growing up in an increasingly degenerate society, but I could at least let them know what Daddy's and Mommy's values were.

I was one of the 18 million people who watched the resumption of the show Roseanne Tuesday night.  I was intrigued by the previews aired on the Fox Network and decided to watch.  I had high hopes.  For the most part, I was not disappointed, but while I was laughing at the witty quips, I was also disturbed by some of the serious themes and sub-plots.

Most disturbing of all was the character of a boy who dresses effeminately, down to the skirt and nail polish.  While the character affirms that he feels like a boy, not a girl, that seemed (to me) to be a not so subtle tactic to sneak in the transsexual issue to the public, in as innocuous-seeming a way as possible.

I was pleased by the portrayal of Roseanne's ex-cop sister who deplores Roseanne for having voted for Trump.  The sister is the epitome of the wacko leftist, whom Roseanne commends as the kind, compassionate, and loving person who supports Obamacare because she cannot do "simple math."

As a wannabe writer myself, I admired the cleverness of the script, which continuously weaves together several plot lines, wherein the characters reveal the quiet desperation of average Americans – for whom the American dream remains always just beyond grasp.  Always short of money but never of dreams, one of the daughters is negotiating to become a surrogate mother, donating her own eggs, because the $50,000 being offered is life-changing money for her.  I detect a subtext involving abortion, but I may be jumping the gun on that one.

I could not help but be reminded of the sitcom Married... with Children, which interestingly enough ran contemporaneously with the original Roseanne series.  I am one of the few social conservatives who has praise for that now defunct show, despite its characterization of a family that was dysfunctional in almost every respect except (thankfully) domestic violence.  That series was both funny and disgusting at the same time; in my view, it displayed the moral decay into which America was sinking at the time, a decay that has if anything metastasized through much of society.  The portrayal was not an affirmation.  It was a dirty, nasty job, but in my opinion, somebody needed to do it.

What sets the Roseanne show apart, and makes it better than others, is that despite its portrayal of familial dysfunction, it also promotes an undercurrent that is sadly missing, especially on the radical left: the idea that despite our severe disagreements on vital matters, we can still "love one another."  No one in the show shouts down the others, regardless of the rightness or wrongness of the opposing view.  All are patient with each other, despite the occasional blow-ups and rants.  They even eat their meals together, something too few families do anymore, instead opting to remain absorbed in their social media.

The open question is whether Roseanne has made it respectable to portray conservatives as likeable people – indeed, human at all.  Will the tolerance in her family be conveyed to the audience as an example of the tolerance Americans should have with each other?  Is it okay to point out the flaws in liberal thinking (e.g., their proverbial inability to do "simple math")?

We have been here before, sort of.  Touched by an Angel was a successful TV series, as is Duck Dynasty, both of which unabashedly promote(d) religious values – in Duck's case, specific Christian values.  Gay activists attempted to shut Duck Dynasty down but thankfully failed.  The door is ajar, but only slightly.

Will Roseanne widen the opening further?  Dare we hope for a resumption of Father Knows Best?  I'm not holding my breath.  Still, any hint of hope is refreshing.  Roseanne may not be breaking down that door, but at least she has not barred it.

Image: Stand-Up Sucks, LLC via Wikimedia Commons.

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