NBA Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, believes that the early success of Trump-supporter Roseanne Barr’s reboot of her classic sitcom, is actually an anti-Trump statement.
Jabbar, now a columnist for the Hollywood Reporter, believes the “daily economic struggles” of the Conner family, the name of Roseanne’s family in her show, highlights the plight of poor and blue-collar families living in the age of Trump.
The day after the Roseanne revival premiered to massive ratings, President Donald Trump bragged at a Cleveland rally that the show’s success was because “it was about us.” He’s right, but not in the flattering way he thinks. Nothing reveals Trump’s myopia more than trying to grab credit for others’ success, not realizing that the show he’s boasting about relentlessly criticizes him and his policies more ruthlessly than almost any other program on television. While Will & Grace, another revival successfully reinvented for current political times, openly pontificates its anti-Trump bias, Roseanne is more subversive in its presentation of class struggles, health care, gender identity, and other issues that reflect the failures of the Trump administration.
Jabbar goes on to explain how Roseanne Barr’s public support of Trump, actually masks the profound hardships and results of America’s “class war:”
It’s easy to miss the show’s uncompromising criticism of Trump because the star, Roseanne Barr, just completed an intensive talk-show publicity tour during which she adamantly proclaimed her support for Trump and touted that her show would articulate the feelings and frustrations of Trump loyalists. To some extent, it fulfills that promise through Barr’s character, Roseanne Conner, the loud but lovable matriarch of a blue-collar family whose modest American dreams have crashed and burned before ever leaving the runway. They are the walking wounded, causalities of America’s longest and most devastating combat: class war. They’re damaged but defiant, their tattered lives McGuyvered together with duct tape, job sweat, and grocery coupons. It’s a shag-carpeting dystopia. What makes them so compelling is that they face their disappointments with the kind of heroic grit they used to write folk songs about. Now it’s sitcoms.
Jabbar closes with a warning to Trump supporters, not to look for salvation in Roseanne’s reboot:
Unfortunately for Trump supporters, Roseanne is like that cinnamon roll in which some people claim to see the face of Jesus. If you’re looking for saviors in your pastry, you’ll eventually find them. If you’re looking for pro-Trump proselytizing in Roseanne, you’ll be feasting on your own imagination. Because when you look at the actual content of the first three shows, you see a deliberate lack of any substantive arguments, facts, statistics, or credible authorities that generally are the tools of forming educated opinions. It’s not there, nor should we expect it. It’s a sitcom, folks, not a poli-sci lecture.
What you will find is a powerful reflection of the oppressive daily struggles that many Americans deal with. The show doesn’t directly preach a political take on these issues, but merely by highlighting them, it makes clear to those who follow legitimate news sources that the Conners’ problems, which have existed through previous administrations, have been exasperated by the Trump administration. Trump’s attacks on health care, including Medicaid, have worsened the Conners’ ability to afford necessary medication. Trump’s support of legislation targeting the LGBTQ community will affect the Conners’ gender-fluid grandson, not just regarding clothing choices but in legitimizing public animosity against him. Administration rollbacks on social welfare programs could impact the Conner children fighting to make ends meet. The biggest issue for the Conners is the economy. Unemployment and economic growth are on par with President Obama’s last term, so Trump has been able to continue the momentum. But his massive tax cut threatens to add a huge budget deficit, which means even greater cuts to programs that protect and support people like the Conners. Basically, Roseanne Conners is like a student at Trump University during the investigation of fraud, still hoping her degree will mean something.
It’s notable that Jabbar gives only passing reference to the fact that the economic and social problems confronted by the Conner family, have existed throughout previous administrations. One could easily forget, after reading Jabbar’s column, that Roseanne had much of its success during the Clinton years. The Conner family confronted poverty, unemployment, abortion, LGBT issues, and every other contentious social and political issue, when Democrats occupied 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue as well.
Yet, Jabbar completely absolves Clinton from any responsibility for the Conner’s plight. In fact, the former president is not mentioned or even alluded to in the column.
Before Jabbar writes any more about Roseanne’s reboot, he might want to go back and watch the original. He also might want to Google who the president was for much of that run.
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter @themightygwinn