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ABDUL-HAKIM SHABAZZ: ‘Roseanne’ the show was better than its namesake

June 8, 2018

Shabazz
I have to admit, I was a fan of the reboot of “Roseanne.” I thought the writing was good, and I liked the characters, which is uncommon for me with reboots. I was also impressed by how the show did not oversimplify major issues and portrayed the characters as capable of growth and keeping an open mind.

For example, in one episode where John Goodman’s character, Dan, was distraught because his firm had lost a bid to a rival contractor who hired illegals to cut costs, Goodman did not blame the illegals; he blamed the person who hired them.

Dan was torn over whether he would have to hire illegals to underbid other contractors so he could afford to pay for Roseanne’s surgery. And at the end of this season, the show began to address opioid abuse when it was revealed Roseanne was addicted to pain pills.

The program did have some shortcomings. I could never quite figure out why all the kids moved back home in a universe of low unemployment and a worker shortage, but hey, it’s television so you have to be willing to suspend a certain amount of logic and reason.

However, overall, it was pretty good television. I thought it showed “Trump supporters” in a manner that was fair. Contrary to popular belief, not all people who support Donald Trump are racists. A lot of them are folks who fear, rightly or wrongly, that they are being left behind socially, economically and technologically. Nearly 50 years ago, we would have called this “All in the Family.”

But while “Roseanne” was good television overall, like a lot of good things, unfortunately, it doesn’t take much to screw things up.

When Roseanne tweeted that former Obama administration aide Valerie Jarrett was a mix between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Planet of the Apes, it was pretty clear someone was not going to be back next season. It turns out that “someone” was everyone in the show.

Roseanne apologized. Several cast members said they would not be back. And ABC canceled the show. This has now led to the social media storm pitting people who say Roseanne was always a racist against defenders who come back with the line, “But what about when (fill in the blank) said (fill in the other blank)?”

For me, this is pretty simple: If you’re going to say stupid stuff, you’d better be willing to deal with the consequences. The First Amendment and right to free speech protect you from the government, not your employer.

Of course, there is a certain amount of irony that some of the same people who think NFL players should be fired for kneeling during the national anthem were among Roseanne’s biggest social media supporters. And some of Roseanne’s biggest detractors are among those who were the biggest supporters of NFL players taking a knee. This reminds me once again that hypocrisy can be consistent.

Oh well, at least I will have my reruns of the original run of the series, particularly seasons 3-7. They jumped the shark after Roseanne’s sister got married. But one thing I’ve learned in the media business is, you never say never.

Who knows, maybe Roseanne and Bill Cosby will find a home on the USA Network. And the show can be produced by Harvey Weinstein. I have to go clean out my DVR now.•

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Shabazz is an attorney, radio talk show host and political commentator, college professor and stand-up comedian. Send comments to ibjedit@ibj.com.

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