Rumors are circulating about the inclusion of a “gender creative” child on the highly anticipated revival of Roseanne. The characters of Roseanne’s younger daughter Darlene and her husband David will have two children, 14 or 15-year-old Harris and nine-year-old Mark.
Entertainment writer Roger Friedman dishes:
“But there’s a twist. The new nine-year-old Mark will be ‘gender creative.’ According to my spies, the casting call asks for a kid who can play ‘sensitive and effeminate’ and ‘displays qualities of both young female and male traits.’”
Friedman explains while this is a big deal, Mark won’t be the first gender fluid child on TV. “That distinction goes to actor Asia Kate Dillon, playing Taylor on Showtime’s ‘Billions,'” he says.
We’re excited to see a gender fluid child on the series, but we’re also worried. Is this just a set up for some jokes? In real life, Roseanne Barr has a history of of transphobic rhetoric herself. Regarding trans women being let into spaces where women change clothes, Barr said, “If she has a penis, she is not allowed in.”
So how will Roseanne treat a gender creative child like Mark?
The first iteration of her show treated its lesbian and other “outsider” characters as a counterpoint and opportunity to talk about issues around sexual orientation. So we’re hoping the reboot will tackle complex issues of gender identity with empathy and acceptance.
Of course, as a sitcom, audiences will want some humor, but it’s going to be tough for Roseanne to accomplish hilarity without offending someone in today’s extremely politically correct climate.
We recently published an article delving into one of the series’ gayest episodes, where Sandra Bernhard’s character, a friendly acquaintance named Nancy, comes out as a lesbian. The article’s author Drew Mackie explored the episode’s candid conversations and concluded that the show’s progressive values helped open the hearts and minds of those watching.
“Roseanne told stories about average Americans getting by and laughing at whatever troubles came their way,” Mackie writes. “As a result, it made for a surprising vehicle for progressive values. But it worked, and because Roseanne and her family reacted to most situations with a shrug and wisecrack, they treated homosexuality exactly the same way. It’s just another part of the American experience.”
Mackie continues: “This [episode] is the one where the Conners (the central family in Roseanne) revealed themselves to be people who ultimately didn’t really care if someone was gay or straight.”
We’re looking forward to seeing how they deal with issues of gender identity. Hopefully, they won’t really care about that either.