If someone told you that Roseanne Barr had a new 16-episode reality show focusing on her “new life on a macadamia nut farm on the Big Island of Hawaii,” you’d probably think they were yanking your chain.
And you’d be wrong. From Newsweek:
The 58-year-old comedian is launching a 16-episode reality series, Roseanne’s Nuts, on Lifetime on Wednesday. It shows her new life on a macadamia nut farm on the Big Island of Hawaii, which she bought in 2007 and moved to fulltime last year. She lives with her boyfriend of eight years, Johnny Argent, and teenaged Buck, with her adult children and grandchildren around, too. They’re all on the show, which Barr said is like “Larry David meets reality.” Meaning, it’s not exactly reality? “It’s based in reality,” she said. “But it’s funny. It’s not the Kardashians.”
It’s long been said that reality is stranger than fiction, but reality television might be stranger still. Big Hollywood readers probably would agree that Roseanne is just about the last person they would want watch star in a reality show, but if those nauseating “Real Housewives” are any indication, the crazier you are, the better chance you have at pulling in an audience.
There’s nothing in the Newsweek piece–needless to say–to suggest the magazine or Lifetime had any issues with a recent photo shoot of Roseanne’s where she dressed as Hitler and ate burnt “Jew cookies,” but Newsweek did make sure to get Roseanne’s take on Michele Bachmann:
It’s a more balanced life. One in which her Cassandra-like predictions about the erasure of the middle class (“We’re going to go like Mexico–the rich people and the poor people.”); Michele Bachmann (“She makes Sarah Palin look sane. Doesn’t she?”); her sustained Twitter meltdown after the not guilty verdict in the Casey Anthony trial; and the disappearance of the sort of class mobility that allowed her to go from being a poor Jewish kid in Salt Lake City to a ridiculously rich-and-famous comedian (“It’s not going to happen for anyone ever again.”) can be tempered by happier thoughts. For instance, she appreciates the rise of female comedians on television, such as Chelsea Handler, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and the upcoming season’s star Whitney Cummings. “I just like that all these women are coming to TV and they’ll have their say,” Barr said. “I think that’ll be cool.”
Once again, the irony of Roseanne Barr evaluating other people’s sanity is palpable.
Newsweek also tells of Barr’s daring escape from Hollywood to… El Segundo, a beach community about 15 miles away:
After that calamity, the therapized–and Kabbalah-influenced (since she had become close to the much-followed, controversial Rav Philip Berg of the Kabbalah Centre)–Barr decided to escape. Her hide-in-plain-sight refuge was El Segundo, a middle-class California suburb of L.A. near LAX and the beach that’s named after Chevron’s second (or “segundo”) oil refinery. “I thought I could solve my isolation by just not being isolated,” Barr said. “I was like, ‘I don’t give a fuck. I’m going to move to a regular neighborhood. I’m going to drive a regular car. I’m going to shop. I’m going to go to Ralphs.'” And that’s what she did while Buck started going to the local public school.
Yet, there is one genuinely intriguing element that might make “Roseanne’s Nuts” worth tracking: Lifetime boasts that it’s the “most trusted” and “most empowering” television network for women, so we know the joke won’t be on Roseanne. In other words, in order to honor it’s commitment to “empowering” women, Lifetime has undertaken the unenviable task of making Roseanne Barr look good.
And that may well be the nuttiest thing of all.