The hit sitcom ‘Roseanne’ rose from the dead Tuesday night and scored with a gender non-conforming character who defied all stereotypes in the parting shot.
The hourlong two-episode premier didn’t shy away from the 2016 election, pitting sister pro-Clinton Jackie and pro-Trump Roseanne against one another in a constant yet fun series of jabs. The family is back together again, organically tackling issues like weapons in school, unemployment and even surrogacy.
Yet it was Mark, played by young actor Ames McNamara, who brought to the show a poignant conversation about gender norms.
Mark is a boy. And he loves what are traditionally “girls’ clothes.” Skirts, dresses, sparkles. He likes them. They are a part of him. And even as his grandpa Dan (John Goodman) clearly struggles with it, Mark is confidently himself.
The second episode (part two of the hourlong premier) revolves in large part around Mark, his gender non-conformity and the issues it’s raising at his new school.
Darlene’s talk with Mark about being “weird” is the emotional climax of the episode, a poignant conversation about what it is to be “queer” for a lot of young kids trying to find their group of friends and get a foothold in acceptance. The quiet pain on Darlene’s face and in her voice is a powerful commentary on the impact a queer child’s struggles can have on their parents.
The final scene has Mark in the backyard with Dan shooting hoops and loving it. While it would have been easy to put this gender-non-conforming kid in a box and have him sewing clothes in his room, instead the writers kept turning expectations on their head. Mark ends the show with a revealing “dunk” that brings a smile.
There’s been lots of conversation about whether the show would be “pro-Trump.” It’s not. Instead it’s a look at American life, the struggles many old-school parents and grandparents must be having today with social change coming so fast, and frankly the courage so many young people are demonstrating with “yesterday” constantly in the backdrop.
The show got massive ratings, with approximately 18 million people tuning in last night. According to Variety, it was the