Thinking Out Loud

June 1, 2018

When a Sitcom Cancellation is Front Page News

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:34 am

Amid everything else that happened in the world this week, the cancellation of Roseanne Barr’s eponymous #1 hit television show got far more coverage than one would expect in a world of fragmented screen choices. The network news shows, ever searching to balance out hard and soft news, found the rakish Ms. Barr’s latest escapades newsworthy, and there was much discussion about how it’s not what you Tweet, but who you are that determines the extent of the backlash and consequences.

I’m told that 200 people make up the production team. I picture scriptwriters and set designers and costume designers and sound engineers and lighting directors and camera operators. They were all due to start work on Tuesday, following the Memorial Day long weekend. Many of these, including lower-tier actors did not have a guaranteed salary.

This is the entertainment business. Easy come, easy go.

For most of my readers here, who have come to expect a faith focus in what I write, the connection today may seem hard to make, but closer revelation reveals that the program touched on some rather important themes. Generally, the farther away the story-lines stayed from politics, the more universal the message and the comedy; but that’s hard to achieve in these very narcissistic, navel-gazing times in America.

The program gave voice to the struggles of the working class in the area of the U.S. known as The Midwest, the same geographical zone that gave us the TV show The Middle, which is currently being mined for a possible spinoff to fill the Tuesday night slot. They’d have to start filming rather quickly.

Beyond the employment and economic challenges faced by the fictional Conner family, in a short eight-episode season the show dealt with inter-generational families, health care, immigration, shoplifting, gender fluidity, bullying, surrogacy, parenting, pharma-care, addiction, elder care, Muslim neighbors, union labor, FEMA; and many more issues gently alluded to in the very topical scripts.

For those whose aims including writing, acting, directing, etc., the program’s reboot proved that a situation comedy can make a difference. It can bring topics out into the open, sparking constructive discussion.

Again, this is not an unqualified endorsement nor do I agree with making a comedy script politically partisan. But I understand why the cancellation made the evening newscasts. For many people, the show simply mattered. I hope something comes along that can replace the aforementioned benefits.

I also suspect ‘The Rise and Fall of the Roseanne Reboot’ is a story still in the making. Stay tuned.



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