By Andrew Tyrrell, Editor-in-Chief
Man, I really loved Roseanne growing up. It was one of my favorite sitcoms as a kid and as a teenager. It was fresh, it was different, and in a lot of ways it was reflective of not just my family, but a lot of families. It was more real than, say, Full House. Which isn’t to say that other sitcoms weren’t great in their own ways, because they certainly were. But Roseanne was more reflective of reality. Families aren’t perfect. They bicker and fight, and sometimes it’s really bad. That Roseanne was incredible. That Roseanne was trailblazing and funny and real.
But Christ I don’t know what this Roseanne is. Full disclosure, I haven’t watched the new show yet, and I really don’t intend to, though I am curious as to how they explain the Dan situation. Anyway, I don’t plan to tune in because of what she wants to do with this show. I understand where Roseanne’s coming from, and generally speaking I think showing a family with different politics and the ways it can impact a family is important, especially in a time where politics is so divisive.
So why don’t I support this new show? It’s because of the exact brand of politics. Listen, there are some views held by Trump supporters that are valid and worth debating, but most of them aren’t, and for a variety reasons. Frankly most of Trump’s politics are dangerous, rhetorically and literally. His views are leading to a trade war with China, who we owe most of our debt to, and if they decide to collect on it all at once we’re screwed. His fiscal policies are ill informed – we’ve tried trickle down before and it doesn’t work. His social policies are heinous. He’s advocated for the extrajudicial killing of the families of terrorists, which is a war crime.
There’s a reason why politics are so divisive in this country. We were already getting there, but Trump’s brand of nativism, backed by literal white nationalists, isn’t really a viewpoint worth considering. It’s not something we should be giving credence to or exposing more people to. Trump is mocked at home and abroad for his total lack of understanding of the issues and his nonexistent political acumen. What Trump does is he appeals to people’s fears, and then fans the flames of those fears.
When Romney was running against Obama I had plenty of spirited debates with people. For a while I even thought I might vote for Romney over Obama. Because there was a lot of real merit to some of his ideas. There was a legitimate conversation and debate to have. I just don’t think there is one to have with Trumpism. And this isn’t a condemnation of those who voted for Trump; according to most polls, a lot of the people who voted for him the first time around likely won’t vote for him again. This isn’t an indictment of those people, but it is an indictment of what Trump believes. I know plenty of Trump voters who disagreed with a lot of what he said. I still don’t fully understand why they voted for him, but I’m sure they see a lot of the same issues as I do.
So my problem with Roseanne is this: A show that was progressive in how it portrayed working class Americans is now a propaganda piece for a misinformed, out of touch woman. Roseanne is a die hard Trump supporter. She tweets out debunked conspiracy theories in support of him.
This isn’t a genuine attempt to bridge a gap, this a woman wanting to give voice to views that are bad, that are incendiary, and that have, in some cases, just been proven not to work. Generally I don’t think that someone should boycott a show because they disagree with the politics of it; in fact, I do my best to expose myself to many different views. Some of my favorite Twitter personalities are the likes of David Frum, Bill Kristol, Anna Navarro, and Evan McMullin. I enjoy exposing myself to their conservative ideas. But that’s the thing. Their ideas are conservative, Trump’s are not. But my choice not to watch Roseanne isn’t because I disagree with the politics, it’s because of why, it’s because so many should find those politics disagreeable. You want to debate about fiscal policy? Fine. Let’s talk about how we make taxes fair and maintain a social safety net without crippling the middle class or making the wealthy feel like they’re being punished for their success. I’ll happily have that discussion.
As the editor-in-chief of a newspaper I have a responsibility to expose people to varying viewpoints, including those I strongly disagree with. I’ve pushed for us to find conservative voices to provide some balance to our very liberal staff. It’s hard to do that in a very liberal place like Massachusetts, but we’ve at least given it a shot. But as a consumer, as just a guy who wants to watch some tv, I don’t have to expose myself to a tv show that is pushing a viewpoint that is comparable to the dangerous nationalist movements rising in Europe and the ones we’ve seen throughout history, nor would I expect a conservative to watch a tv series that is seriously pushing viewpoints comparable to those of Joseph Stalin under the guise of building bridges between people with opposing viewpoints. Neither set of beliefs has much merit to them. They’re about power and autocracy and scapegoating to consolidate more power and foment unrest to, you guessed it, consolidate power.
I won’t be watching the Roseanne reboot. I admire the general goal of the show. We need to build more bridges, I think everyone on all sides of the political spectrum could deal with coming a little closer to one another, but I don’t think we need to be giving further validity to a set of extremist views, whether they’re left or right. And to see Roseanne doing that very thing breaks my heart.