A message in pop culture

Election season is underway, with the Washoe County conventions for both major parties in April starting the road to the June primaries. The outcome will largely depend on who can judge the mood of the public well enough to win.

Perhaps the reboots of two successful television situation comedies can give us a clue. Will & Grace is credited with bringing gay people into U.S. homes in a upper middle class setting that helped the nation welcome gay marriage. While popular, the reboot likely will cover a lot of ground that has already been well plowed.

But the first two episodes of the new Roseanne show triggered untold numbers of snowflakes while racking up such impressive ratings it was immediately extended for another season. What does this tell us? Is it because Roseanne likes Trump, or does it tell us more about ourselves than her?

Roseanne, the “domestic goddess,” need not explain herself. White working class men and women who struggle daily to make sense of a world they can survive in, but harbor no expectations of real advancement anytime soon, worship her divinity. Her daughter is trying to get ahead by becoming a 43-year old surrogate mother. What’s next, selling organs? If that’s what it takes to keep the Connor family together, one expects they would do it.

Roseanne Barr grew up both Jewish and Mormon. She tried to win the 2012 presidential nomination of the Green Party. She ran for president as the Peace and Freedom Party nominee instead, and her vice presidential candidate, Cindy Sheehan, became so upset over Barr’s views that she stopped campaigning.

Is Roseanne confused, or exploiting her Roseanne persona for her Twitter followers? Maybe the latter. The more likely explanation is that people see in her their own divergent views of the world. Why isn’t there a party that is pro-choice but against taxes and regulations, like Roseanne is?

Members of the U.S. public have a low opinion of government and both political parties, the lowest in years. They distrust the media even more than politicians. They may be regrouping, forming new alliances of interest and ideology. People are complex, and, like the Red Queen, can often believe six contradictory ideas before breakfast. The political system is dominated by two old parties that disagree about the small things, like culture wars, but too often agree on the major issues, like passing omnibus spending bills that threaten our future.

It’s rare to see lower working-class whites featured on television. That’s surprising because such shows are often big hits. But The Honeymooners and All in the Family were not organized around a matriarch. Roseanne brings her oversized female ego to the fight, and no man can stand up to her.

Deep down, Roseanne is, after all, a Hollywood sitcom, and is sweet and accepting as all such programs are. Roseanne’s nine-year-old grandson who likes to dress in girls clothes because the colors pop is accepted and protected by her. Roseanne reportedly fought to have a black girl in the cast. All that should not surprise anyone. Working-class whites who voted for Trump often have diverse families. They just don’t like diversity rubbed in their faces. What if the boy wants a sex change in a couple of years? Will the show challenge network standards and practices to touch the political minefield of early teen transexualism? No matter, her fans will still love her.

Democrats can only wish they appealed to working-class whites like Roseanne does. Republicans know they cannot take her fans for granted and have to keep delivering, or they will stay home in November.