Roseanne has ruffled feathers once again. During the Tuesday, April 3, episode, a joke was made that raised a lot of eyebrows. After falling asleep in front of the TV, Roseanne (Roseanne Barr) and Dan (John Goodman) awoke to realize they slept for hours.
“We slept from Wheel to Kimmel,” Roseanne tells her husband. Dan responds, “We missed all the shows about black and Asian families.” However, it was her response that upset many: “They’re just like us. There, now you’re all caught up.” The assumption was that the shows referenced were ABC’s sitcoms Black-ish and Fresh Off the Boat.
Kelvin Yu, a Taiwanese-American actor, writer and producer, took to Twitter on Thursday, April 5, to express his disappointment with the punchline. In a thread of nine tweets, he called out that the joke is much more than offensive.
“Here’s why the Roseanne joke about ‘missing all the shows about Black and Asian families’ matters. At the very least, it’s reductive and belittling, as if to say those shows are nothing more than ‘Black’ and ‘Asian’ in their existence. 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. That’s it. The stories, the humor, the characters … not important,” Yu, who previously starred on Master of None, wrote.
“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 shit sandwich of a joke that ABC allowed to be served in their own restaurant. It’s a big deal,” he continued. “Do I think the characters Roseanne and Dan watch Black-ish or Fresh Off The Boat? Of course not. Do I think they’d say something PC about them? Probably not. But the point is, they didn’t HAVE to say ANYTHING. They didn’t have to write that joke at all. It’s not even a joke.”
He then asked his Twitter readers to think about the actual punchline.
“It’s an endorsement of dismissiveness and disregard. It’s a familiarity and comfort with the culture of objectifying and demeaning people of color,” he wrote. “Keep in mind, ABC was all too willing to bar Kenya Barris from airing an episode about kneeling during the nat’l anthem because of a fear it would be divisive and alienating. Black-ish is one of only a handful of shows about Black families on the air.”
Last month, ABC shelved an episode of Black-ish due to its controversial story line. “Given our creative differences, neither ABC nor I were happy with the direction of the episode and mutually agreed not to air it,” showrunner Kenya Barris told Variety at the time. However, Roseanne took on the kneeling during the anthem joke during the first episode with Roseanne asking her democratic sister Jacky (Laurie Metcalf) if she wanted to kneel during grace.
Yu continued: “Fresh Off The Boat is the ONLY show about an Asian American family. Meanwhile, Roseanne is currently being touted as the refreshing voice of an underrepresented group (conservative women). Here’s my point: they rebooted a beloved 90s sitcom & updated the main character to be a Trump voter under the pretense that it was a realistic portrayal of the the white working class. Then in ep 2, they depict her LITERALLY SLEEPING through stories about people of color … I’m not saying it’s inaccurate to have her do this. I actually think it’s TOO accurate (and also not that funny?). Maybe next week, Dan and Roseanne explain to their grandchildren that Santa and Sandy Hook are both fake and we can all just laugh and laugh.”
ABC had no comment on the controversial episode.
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