Shortly after ABC dropped the hammer on the Roseanne revival, after Roseanne Barr’s offensive tweet concerning Valerie Jarrett (which I’m not adding here – If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I’m sure you can easily Google up some clarification), a prominent celebrity gossip site posted a picture of John Goodman, walking his dog and scowling.
He had every reason to, but before we dig into that, the entire nation, seemingly, took their white or blue dress and their “Yanny” or “Laurel” to the side of their choosing. One said that ABC’s swift and painful cancellation was right. And this was painful for ABC. For the first time in a long time, a network program was rivalling ratings found on cable and online sources, ratings not seen since the days of old. Plus, setting aside the controversies tied to the debut episode of the revival, the show was indeed a quality show, mostly through the steady hands of Whitney Cummings, Wanda Sykes, and the presence of will that was Sara Gilbert.
Please recall that it was Gilbert’s mini-skit in early-2017 with Goodman on The Talk that reminded people that this series had not only once existed, but struck a chord with audiences. Gilbert was the parent of this revival project, and likely sensing a responsible and daring person was going to be at the helm, Goodman seemed only too happy to get back into Dan Conner’s workboots. It was never the name at the opening of the credits that drove this machine, which probably made things worse, not better. Gilbert was this iteration’s matriarch, not Roseanne, and there’s a possibility that this was a bruise to the ego.
Things to consider: For that other side who jumped to the blue dress/”Laurel” side and argued for the “many, many people who unfairly lost their jobs because of the cancellation,” I reply, yes, because all the other people associated with other shows that were cancelled this month magically get to keep their jobs regardless of the non-operational status of their programs. (Oh, wait…)
If you are a celebrity, you can tweet anything you want at any time with zero repercussions or responsibility to others. Everyone can go on and figuratively open their mouths to drop digital fÆces at any time and get away with it. (Oh, wait…)
Responsibility is more than owning up to a mistake after the fÆces have hit the fan. It is recognizing that you have certain powers at hand, and so you need to wield them wisely and carefully before incidents to keep them from happening. It’s not enough to, paraphrasing Jamie Foxx, “blame it on the a-a-a-a-a-Ambien.”
Whatever. This is not about Roseanne Barr. She came on this show and was, for better or worse, the Roseanne you knew before. Even though Laurie Metcalf is a great actor, only now truly receiving the accolades she’s deserved for years, her work was perfectly in keeping with what she’d previously done with her character Jackie.
But Goodman’s Dan Conner…that’s something else. Rarely has an actor been given a chance to jump back into a character from their past – from a sitcom, no less; from a sitcom where the character died, no less less – and really do something with that opportunity. I haven’t seen much growth from either Will or Grace, to be blunt, and we’ll need to wait to find out if Murphy Brown and company are able to do something worthwhile with this political moment they’ve been handed.
If you have the opportunity to watch this past season of Roseanne, which has now been rendered an incredibly difficult thing to do, focus on Goodman giving the performance of a lifetime. He had taken the character of Dan from loveable, occasionally goofy, hard-working Joe to one feeling the weight of the world on the original run. Now, he’s been able to fully explore how such a degradation of hope and, some might say naivete looks to someone fighting for a dream, only to see it spill out at his feet, the mythological Sisyphus still trying to push that stone up the mountain. Having conquered the empty nest syndrome and graduated to husband, he’s now thrust back into the role of dad (and grand-dad), the breadwinner, the one really thrown by the curve. Sisyphus is getting older, the stone’s getting heavier, and believing is harder than it used to be.
It’s a performance and a character arc that was deserving of an Emmy nod, and very well could have achieved it, if it wasn’t for one reckless person’s lack of stewardship. That one person could have looked around and seen how remarkable things were, how fortunate, how blessed they were and just rode that wave of critical and public appreciation. That person could have done what so many do on a daily basis, keeping their garbage to themselves like adults, recognizing how good “the greater good” was doing, and then could have decided to explore this fantastic and rare opportunity to be with actors who are excelling in their craft and – oh, wait, got another fÆces-drop for all’a y’all.
I go back to that picture of John Goodman, walking his dog and scowling. He has every right to. He put everything out there and delivered work that came out of the heart and soul, sure, but also came straight out of his bone marrow. If there is any justice in any of this, he will get nominated for an award for his performance, in spite of this controversy, but probably won’t. You’d scowl too.