Obviously in a strict sense Roseanne is not a reality show – the Connor family is fictional. It does portray the foibles of working class life humorously and accurately, but that does not set it apart from the myriad of other good sitcoms. What garnered 18 million viewers, generated a cultural phenomenon, and has set the left’s hair on fire is Roseanne’s and Dan’s clear-eyed view of the world as it actually exists, and their anticipation of unintended consequences.

Roseanne’s sister Jackie is a stand-in for the prototype leftist. In their fantasy world, universal, complete healthcare coverage, with the finest doctors, cutting-edge technology, and no wait time, should be free and available to all (presumably paid for by that little monopoly guy who looks like J.P. Morgan). Attempting to be charitable upon this subject, Roseanne tells Jackie that she is “a goodhearted person who can’t do simple math.” It’s not that Jackie can’t though – she simply won’t. Why?  Because the simple math would slam her right into the brick wall of reality.

The Connors have a grandson, Mark, who has been encouraged to freely express himself, and has done so by deciding to wear a garish outfit, partly made up of girls’ clothes, to the first day of school in a working class neighborhood. Despite Dan’s warnings, Mark’s mother, Darlene, blithely assumes that all children in the 21st century are open-minded and accepting of eccentrics, and does little to prepare him for what likely lies ahead. Roseanne, foreseeing the battles to come and noticing the skirt and plaid Mark has about his shoulders, grimly calls him “my little Braveheart.”

(As an aside, if my son, or future grandson, were to favor the kilt and plaid, I would beam with pride, though I would insist upon a sporran (leather pouch) a skien duhb (black knife) for his sock, and a dirk upon his hip. Wha dar meddle wi’ him then?  They may not let him into school with such accoutrements, but I would argue it’s a multi-cultural thing, and they need to be more open-minded.)

Roseanne advises her grandson to pick his battles. In other words, it is wise not to “let your freak flag fly,” as they say today, 24/7. It can become a distraction. Needless to say, the first day of battle does not go well for the little highlander. Reality strikes, and he is bullied.

The lad decides, though, that his fashion sense is important to him, and worth the fight. On the second day of battle he finds his highland heritage within him (at least in my view) discovers his opponent’s weak point, and threatens shockingly lethal retaliation: Nemo me impune lacessit. Care for some trail mix, Mr. Peanut Allergy? The day is his, and the other kids accept him.

Biological reality raises its head in the show when Becky decides to be a surrogate mother, albeit with her own egg.  Dan is so outraged he is speechless, and heads for the refrigerator full of beer in the garage to gain his composure. Roseanne knows that outrage will backfire, and simply lays it out for Becky – her egg = her child = Roseanne’s grandchild, which will be sold.

Since Rousseau’s view of man as tabula rasa and through Marx’s anticipation of impersonal forces reaching the end of history, the utopian left has ignored the reality of the world and human nature. Classical liberalism (now better known as American conservatism) accounts for human nature, working with it and not simply pretending it is not there or will magically go away. Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations and his “invisible hand” described how human self-interest could be harnessed for the good of all. Our founding fathers limited and separated political power, knowing it to be a magnet collecting unto itself all within proximity. This is why the left rages and howls against the popularity of Roseanne. It is the pain of cognitive dissonance, as the show wittily and repeatedly shows leftist utopian visions crashing upon rocks of reality. They may as well bay at the moon.


David Churchill Barrow is a regular Liberty Island contributor and along with his wife, MaryLu Barrow, is the author of the young adult novella Silver and Lead.

Image via Youtube.com

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