Remembering Roseanne

Rosie White

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Much has been written in the popular and academic press regarding the recent upsurge of female stars and showrunners on American sitcom. 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation, New Girl and Girls appear to signal a promising trend in American television comedy, showcasing women as writers and producers as well as star performers. This is a timely moment therefore to look back at Roseanne (1988-1997). Kathleen Rowe Karlyn’s famous analysis of Roseanne and Roseanne Barr as an ‘unruly woman’ offers an interesting lens with which to review this ground-breaking series as we move further into the 21st century. In The Unruly Woman Rowe Karlyn proposes Barr as an example of comedy which ‘opens up space for the expression of anger’, addressing Roseanne and Roseanne Barr’s star persona as resistant to the demands of Hollywood media through her age, size and class identity. In her first autobiography Barr asserts that she is informed by second wave feminist politics. Her subsequent career took a distinct downturn with attempts at talk shows and reality television all ending in cancellation. How do we ‘read’ Roseanne now? Is it outdated, or ahead of its time? Surely it should have something to tell us in the recessionary politics of the 2010s? This essay asks whether the current crop of women in television comedy natural successors to the fat, working class Roseanne Connor. Are the new women in comedy still angry or do they represent a postfeminist negotiation of the ‘unruly woman’ carefully inserted into the machine of late western capitalism?
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHysterical! Women in American Comedy
EditorsLinda Mizejewski, Victoria Sturtevant
Place of PublicationAustin, Texas
PublisherUniversity of Texas Press
Number of pages18
ISBN (Print)9781477314524
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017


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