Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

Roseanne on Roseanne: "Fame’s a bitch"

Stop whatever you're doing (unless it's directing air traffic or something; hopefully you have a lunch break soon) and read Roseanne Barr's New York Mag article. In her searing, riveting "And I Should Know," Barr lays bare her grueling experience making her classic sitcom, including the non-stop meddling of producers and the viscous sexism she experienced even when her show hit #1. "It didn’t take long for me to get a taste of the staggering sexism and class bigotry that would make the first season of Roseanne god-awful," she writes, explaining "Nothing real or truthful makes its way to TV unless you are smart and know how to sneak it in, and I would tell you how I did it, but then I would have to kill you."

Roseanne also rips into that secret belief we all have that if we ever found success, it wouldn't be us that gets worn out and tossed aside like an oversized flannel."It’s hard to tell whether one is winning or, in fact, losing once one starts to think of oneself as a commodity, or a product, or a character, or a voice for the downtrodden," Barr writes, later detailing the devastation that came with slipping ratings. "My dependence on empty flattery, without which I feared I would evaporate, masked a deeper addiction to the bizarro world of fame." Roseanne creates her resiliency to her fear that lightening would never strike her career twice, but as an encounter between a producer and a pair of wardrobe scissors suggests (‪"I said, 'This is no fucking character! This is my show, and I created it…I will win this battle if I have to kill every last white bitch in high heels around here.”‬), it's nothing less than Barr's epic endurance that brought her to the top of the TV game.

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  • HerooftheBeach

    I read that yesterday and it's a fantastic piece. (The whole comedy feature they're doing this month is really really good.) It sounds like she was both treated unfairly and horribly, but was also absolutely terrible to work with.

    I have to wonder how she would have fared today, in the age of the all powerful showrunner. On one hand, she was a brave trailblazer who made the present possible, but on the other it's like she was ten years too early.