Poor Things! Liberal Artists Are Upset by the Success of ‘Roseanne’

You'd think they'd enjoy the triumphs of an agenda-free show, but Trump haters are attacking the revival of this favorite sitcom

by Zachary Leeman | Updated 06 Apr 2018 at 10:48 AM

Becoming a successful artist — or even just a working artist — requires a long and difficult journey most of the time. Plenty of writers, actors, directors, musicians, photographers and so many others can talk for hours, days, about the various odd jobs they’ve taken over the years just to survive, and the struggles they’ve endured to get their work noticed.

Those struggles and journeys make the creative vocation a unique career path — one that few people undertake and even fewer succeed at, sad to say.

So you’d think that such shared connections and experiences would create a bond among working artists. Unfortunately, political agendas don’t just ruin art — they also ruin artists.

The massive success the revival of “Roseanne” has enjoyed in its first two weeks on the air should get other creative people very excited. More and more viewers are tuning into live television in an age of streaming — and that’s a great thing for everybody.

Instead, some leftist artists are attacking the show and its success because it dares to depict a Donald Trump voter as a normal human being and not a frothing-at-the-mouth racist.

Director Rob Reiner — who previously had a political spat with Barr — has come down on the show the hardest.

The “Misery” and “Stand by Me” director warned during an appearance on MSNBC that the show was giving a “microphone” to the “lunatic fringe.”

“It goes back to the original sin of this country, which is slavery, and we are fighting this last battle of the civil war. And those people who are the Alt-Right, the white supremacists, are hanging on for dear life, and they’re using these propaganda tools which are not just, like I say, lunatic fringe,” Reiner said. “They’re now invading us, and you guys in the mainstream media seeking the truth are really fighting an uphill battle. This is a real battle right here for the soul of democracy.”

Reiner doesn't understand the variety of voters who support President Donald Trump across this country — and doesn't care to try to learn about them. In his mind, they are all "lunatic fringe."

He should remember that a lot of respectable people threw their weight behind Trump. Is former Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell — who spoke at the last Republican National Convention — part of the "lunatic fringe"? How about the veterans who survived the terrorist attack in Benghazi?

The reason the revival of "Roseanne" has succeeded so much with viewers is that it dropped the anti-Trump agenda that's practically ubiquitous these days — on "Saturday Night Live," "The President Show," any late-night television program, "Our Cartoon President," "Will & Grace," and so much more.

"Roseanne" doesn't have an agenda. Despite Barr's open support of the president, she made sure the writing presented an accurate depiction of the conversations people are having around the dinner table. The show is taking the country's cultural struggles head-on without going out of its way to paint Trump voters or Hillary voters with irresponsible and broad strokes.

Related: Why 'Roseanne' Is the Show America Needs Right Now

The show is a cultural win, but people like Reiner don't see it that way. The series challenges his own preconceived notions about people who disagree with him, so it's immediately part of the "lunatic fringe."

Reiner is not the only fellow artist to turn on Barr. Author Terry McMillan and director Lexi Alexander have both tweeted criticisms of the show.

Barr's ex-husband, Tom Arnold, who used to work on "Roseanne," even wrote a review of the reboot. While he gave it a positive review overall, he managed to fit in some swipes at his ex-wife, which takes petty to a whole new level.

He said Barr has become a "far-Right Trump-loving troll" and that it had a slightly negative effect on the show.

The success of "Roseanne" should be celebrated by creative people everywhere — but welcome to modern Hollywood, where everything needs to have an agenda.

Basketball star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar also recently gave an odd interview in which he tried to explain that the show is actually the most anti-Trump show on television.

Here's a thought: What if the show weren't anti- or pro-Trump? What if it was just an agenda-free work of art trying to give real perspective about people of all political persuasions?

Related: A Conservative and a Liberal Have an Honest, Heated Discussion

The success of "Roseanne" should be celebrated by creative people everywhere — but welcome to modern Hollywood, where everything needs to have an agenda. And if you have the "wrong" agenda, well then, you're thrown under the bus again and again by people within your own industry.

PopZette editor Zachary Leeman can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter.

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