By Ruth Bayang
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
Numerous viewers condemned the recently revived TV series Roseanne over a scene in an episode last week.
John Goodman’s character, Dan Conner, tells Roseanne they “missed all the shows about Black and Asian families” because they fell asleep in between Wheel of Fortune and Jimmy Kimmel Live!, referencing ABC’s other minority-led sitcoms Black-ish and Fresh Off the Boat.
“They’re just like us,” Roseanne Barr’s character responded. “There, now you’re all caught up.”
Among those who weren’t pleased with the joke was Kelvin Yu, a Taiwanese American and former Fresh Off the Boat writer. He wrote in a series of tweets that “at the very least, it’s reductive and belittling.”
“But the real kicker is when Roseanne says: ‘They’re just like us. There, now you’re all caught up.’ Which implies that the point of any show about a minority family is simply to normalize them,” Yu wrote. “That’s it. The stories, the humor, the characters … not important.”
He continued, “Then you take ALLLLLL of that and put it in the mouth of an avowed Trump supporter (not the actress–the CHARACTER of Roseanne) and you have one stinky little sh** sandwich of a joke that ABC allowed to be served in their own restaurant. It’s a big deal.”
Yu is largely correct. The joke may not have offended some people, but ABC aired the episode less than a month after shelving an episode of Black-ish, citing “creative differences” with the series’ creator Kenya Barris.
ABC previously praised the critically acclaimed series for its deft handling of controversial topics, but for some reason, they thought this particular episode — about kneeling athletes and political divide in the country — crossed the line.
Since then, Barris has tried to get out of his ABC contract, so he can move to Netflix.
But we all know the real reason ABC didn’t air the episode: It made white people uncomfortable.
And this particular joke aired on Roseanne because it was funny only to white people.
Ruth can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.