The American Working Class Family
Roseanne was first aired on ABC on October 18, 1988, and it was a blue collar comedy about a working class family from Illinois. This series lasted for nine seasons and was the most watched television show from 1989-1990. The reason this show was so popular because it showed the reality of a working class family. The characters in this series include Roseanne Conner ( the hardworking, loving, and sarcastic wife/mother), Dan Conner( the hardworking, easygoing, and loveable father/husband), Rebecca Conner or also known as Becky, (the overachiever and the oldest child), Darlene Conner, ( the tomboy, and the trouble maker and who is the middle child), and lastly there is David Jacob Conner or also known as D.J. ( the one lacking on common sense, and the baby of the family). This show has done a great job of portraying the working class family, but the three main things I want to focus on is how Roseanne is portrayed as a feminist in the show, how they represent the working class family, and lastly how they are portrayed as a loving and supporting family throughout their struggles.
“The show was also significant for its portrayal of feminist ideals including a female-dominated household, an overweight female lead whose likability didn't rely on her appearance, relationships between female characters that were cooperative rather than competitive, and females openly expressing themselves without negative consequences.”(The Roseanne Wiki). Roseanne does not play your typical mom in this show; she is the head of the household and makes a lot of the important decisions when it comes to the family. One example that I can think of from the show was on the third episode of season five called “The Dark Ages”, in this episode Roseanne finds a notice from the electrical company that they are overdue on their bill and they will be shutting it off at 5 o’clock that night if they don’t receive a payment. So Roseanne, (not Dan) calls the electric company to see if there is anything they can do so the power doesn’t get shut off, they pretty much tell her tough cookies you are going to be without power all weekend. The fact that Roseanne called and not her husband was an example of a woman having the power to be in charge of the finances. I could give you many more examples of her feminist ways in the show, and trust me there are many throughout all nine seasons, but we don’t have time for that.
Now we are going to look at how they exemplified the working class family. In the show Roseanne and Dan struggle to keep steady jobs, keep food on the table, and pay their bills, neither of them have a college degree to fall back on, and they have to work hard to stay afloat. On another note the show does a great job in making it look like a working class lifestyle, according to Fadjanie’s blog “The depictions of their financial struggles, the old, run down furniture in the house, and limited access to healthy foods are all markers of difference. These become the labels of working class on television.” A good example from season 3 episode 16 called “Home-economics”, when Roseanne takes Darlene’s home-economics class to the supermarket to teach them a lesson on family budgeting, while they are at the supermarket some of the richer girls questioned Roseanne’s choice of knock off brand food items,(especially the meat choice), and also the fact that they could only get what was on the list and nothing more. She taught these girls how to shop for a working class family, and did it in a humorous way that appealed to the students. The best part about this show is that Roseanne is proud of who she is and is not embarrasses to be a part of the working class.
Lastly were going to discuss how even though they have many struggles in their life, family is the most important thing to them. They are represented as a loving and supportive family that can get through anything together. “What the show boils down to is that family is everything. The Conner’s suffer financial and familial problems at every turn, never really making it out of their difficult situation, but always come together to share what little they have and enjoy each other’s company.”( Roncero-Menendez). The way they deal with their problems and talk about them is really something to admire about this family, I mean they might not always reach their solution without a little bitching and moaning but they always figure out whatever the problem may be as a family.
Roseanne has been on since before I was born and now 23 years later I still love watching it because of how real it is, sometimes I feel like I can really relate to it which makes this series naturalistic. This show is one of the best representations of the working class family in America, and so many of us can relate to their struggles. Roseanne’s role as this feminist mother really has helped out the feminist movement and making the struggles that women face more open to the public. Lastly the lesson to be learned from Roseanne is that family is the most important thing, no matter what you’re going through you will get through it together.