‘Roseanne’ Under Fire for Taking a Jab at ‘Black-ish’ & ‘Fresh Off the Boat’
On the most recent episode of the Roseanne revival, the show took a controversial swipe at two of ABC’s other (more diverse) sitcoms.
In the scene, Roseanne (Roseanne Barr) and Dan Conner (John Goodman) fell asleep while watching TV. When she woke up, the couple realized they’d missed every show on the network from “Wheel to Kimmel.”
“We missed all the shows about black and Asian families,” Dan said, clearly referring to Black-ish and Fresh Off the Boat. Roseanne then quipped, “They’re just like us. There, now you’re all caught up.”
On Thursday, Taiwanese-American actor and writer of Bob’s Burgers, Kelvin Yu responded to the “joke” on Twitter.
He wrote: “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,” he added.
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. 1/9
— Kelvin Yu (@InternetKelvin) April 5, 2018
“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 s**t sandwich of a joke that ABC allowed to be served in their own restaurant. It’s a big deal. 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,” Yu continued.
He also pointed out that the joke not only perpetuates racism on TV but the “culture of objectifying and demeaning people of color.”
Kourtney Kang also wrote an essay about the joke for The Hollywood Reporter. She previously was a writer and co-executive producer for the first three seasons of Fresh Off the Boat.
Kang called these types of jokes “divisive” with the intent of keeping an “Us” versus “Them” mentality in media. “What hurts the most is when everyone else in the room laughs,” she concluded.