‘Roseanne’ and ideological diversity
Eddie Damstra | Thursday, April 5, 2018
Recently, controversy has surrounded the reboot of the famous television show “Roseanne.” In the revived season of “Roseanne,” the main character, Roseanne Conner, is a supporter of President Trump. Some writers and viewers of the show found this troubling. Some people seemed to suggest that watching the show would be tacitly supporting Donald Trump and thus have decided to essentially boycott the show. The fact that some people have chosen to stop viewing a show based on the political affiliation of the show’s main character may seem unimportant, but I believe it is indicative of a broader culture trend characterized by an aversion to ideological diversity.
Television shows today place an intentional emphasis on including previously underrepresented groups in storylines. Racial minorities, the LGBT community and other groups are increasingly represented on television nowadays. This is certainly a good thing. Television shows, and art more broadly, should be representative and inclusive. However, this embracement of representation and inclusivity should also be extended to ideology. There is no reason diversity should be limited to skin color or sexual orientation.
In fact, I would argue that diversity of ideas and ideology is the paramount form of diversity. Without engaging in an open marketplace of diverse ideas, people regress into echo chambers wherein they are unable to entertain opposing ideas and incapable of empathizing with others. This is dangerous and only serves to exacerbate the already high degrees of polarization and resentment fostering in the nation today.
“Roseanne’s” writers succeed in representing a significant yet rather underrepresented portion of the population: white working-class people who cast their vote for Donald Trump.
It is important to note that many of the other characters in the show are not fond of Trump and engage in discussion with Roseanne. This is extremely refreshing and demonstrates a path toward lessening the plague of polarization currently striking our nation. Encouraging more civil discourse and unity in this nation will be achieved by being able to understand and talk to people with radically different political views than you. “Roseanne” lays out this path by representing differing political ideologies and showing people who possess such differing ideologies conversing with one another.
After the 2016 election, there was a lot of talk about the seeming disconnect between “coastal elites” and “middle America.” The results of the election and the unexpected nature of such results can certainly be explained in part by this disconnect. Representing those in so-called “middle America” in “Roseanne” is an attempt to mitigate this disconnect and bridge the gap between Americans living in Los Angeles and those living in South Dakota.
Diversity is a great thing. However, limiting diversity to skin tone or sexual preference is not only disingenuous, but also dangerous to society at large. People have differing ideas and such differing ideas should be represented in art, and especially in television shows depicting supposedly realistic American families. Due to its attempt at uniting and representing Americans of all ideological backgrounds, “Roseanne” should be celebrated and welcomed, not scorned and ridiculed.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.