“Roseanne” is hitting network TV with the same impact “All in the Family” had in 1971. Except network TV was supposed to have learned some lessons since then. In a way it’s as clueless about the country it supposedly serves as it was in the 1960s, when TV was scrubbed clean of anything upsetting or controversial. Today’s television executive doesn’t want to be upsetting or controversial to liberals or any assumption they hold dear — such as their view that only bigots and bullies voted for Trump. What other sitcom would even dare to make a joke implying Colin Kaepernick is unpatriotic, even though polls show only 30 percent of the public supports his dissing of the American flag?
The same people who claim they’re fond of art that’s “transgressive,” meaning it breaks with norms they don’t like, turn around and claim offense when it comes to breaking with their own norms. No making fun of transgenders! No rape jokes! Ricky Gervais properly skewered this thinking in his Netflix special “Humanity,” in which he explained that while rape isn’t funny, when it comes to jokes about rape, it depends on the joke. (In his case, the joke involved mocking a Christian fundamentalist who said he looked forward to Gervais going to hell and being raped by Satan.) As for Gervais’ jokes about Caitlyn (née Bruce) Jenner, he pointed out that if all jokes about trans people are “transphobic,” then all jokes about Bill Cosby must be racist.