After watching the first couple of episodes, I had been puzzled. Something was “off,” unsettling, not even mildly amusing. It wasn’t only the crassness that put me off. It was the jarring effect of a struggling family dealing with economic hardship, racial differences, gender identity, and a host of other issues (surrogate pregnancy? joblessness? lack of health care? …sometimes too much is too much) in a “comedy” show format.
Serendipitously, I had just finished reading The View from Flyover Country: Dispatches from the Forgotten America, and it occurred to me that Roseanne,the show, was depicting the kinds of real-life struggles detailed in author Sarah Kendzior’s book. In my brief review, I had confessed that the book had made me aware of my own ignorance about the challenges many face today.
Looked at in that light, the show Roseanne had the potential to educate voters. As things stand now, many of us who don’t consider ourselves privileged are nevertheless insulated from the day-to-day, real-life, real-time effects of our broken political system in which people are pawns and hope seems futile.
I came of age when …
- College was affordable
- We realistically expected to get paying jobs upon graduation
- Those who chose not to go to college could get jobs that paid a living wage in manufacturing, construction, clerical work, or other endeavors—or actually make it financially as a solo entrepreneur
- It was not unusual for someone without a college education to start and stay with a single company or organization and, over the years, climb the ladder to administrative positions of responsibility and commensurate pay
None of that is a given any more. And life is not a comedy.