The Potential Predictability of Instability

“An excellent cast is jobless because of Roseanne herself. The show was like a bridge and she burnt it. Lost potential.” That was one my text this week. Potential. It’s that thing.  People  stay in a relationship, a job or an  investment because there is “potential.”  Yet, there is the sobering moment when someone asks, what actions has that person, job, or opportunity,  displayed to engender the great expectation that potential will be realized? 


Roseanne was fired this week for comments on twitter. End of story, done. I’d watched this season and saw potential. The episodes hit on issues fueling the political divide in the US, yet showing the unified impact. It was a platform to showcase discussions between people with  different views sharing a household. Suddenly the cast and crew were out of jobs because of the actions of one.

In 1990 Roseanne was booed for her rendition of the national anthem and for grabbing her crotch. In 1994 she revealed she has multiple personality disorder. In the 2000’s she was known for her outbursts. Scroll through her twitter feed of the last decade and you’ll find a complexity of rants. She notoriously published the address of George Zimmerman’s parents; she wanted to make sure he was arrested and couldn’t hide. She’s tweeted about the government mind control experiments and other conspiracy theories. She oscillates between antisemitism and pro Jewish. In 2013, she tweeted that Susan Rice was a man with big swinging ape balls.

The show had great potential to be that bridge that All in the Family was in seventies.  However, in hopes of the show’s potential, I ignored Roseanne’s potential. My sobering moment was Friday. Bill Mahr, on his show, asked Charlamagne Tha God his thoughts on Roseanne’s firing. Charlemagne replied:

It wasn’t surprising; not at all. I mean Roseanne has a history of racism and she has a history of bigotry and I don’t feel sad for her or the cast or the crew, because when you get in bed with somebody like that, you eventually know you are going to have to deal with the consequences of their actions. So when they go down, you got to go down with them.  You have to know that was going to happen.

There it was. The potential of the show, the opportunity to do good work in a sitcom platform was a risk played out against the probability of unacceptable behavior by the star and namesake. for whatever the reason, Roseanne had the potential to do abhorrent things.

Given Roseanne’s actions, her behavior is no surprise. Given the current environment in the entertainment industry, a movie was reshot to exclude an actor and powerful men were fired for sexual misconduct, the decision by ABC Entertainment Chief Channing Dungey to cancel the show and fire Roseanne is no surprise. Potential, opportunities, actions and risks. Too often, the start of a “trend” is first viewed as a one-off, something atypical. Is it really? Or, is the behavior someone owning his or her potential?  I have a saying in the work place, “if something is a surprise, you just don’t know all the facts” I will adjust that to, say, “if something is a surprise, there is a good chance, you just don’t know all the facts, or you are ignoring the potential probability of the predictable.”

One comment

  1. Great post Sheila. Though, I must confess, I am exhausted by these perfunctory efforts by the media to show their wokeness. I would be much more impressed if they had not aired the reboot in the first place! Are they so devoid of talent that they cannot come up with a new way to address racial/political. Perhaps a more diversified writing staff is the answer. When will they look around the table, acknowledge there is a lack of diversity and address it before this happens. Did ABC not realize who Roseanne was, what she was capable of? I say they did and went ahead anyway because they really did not care. I wonder if the result would have been the same if it was not Valerie Jarrett that was named? What if it was just the collective “them?’

    Let’s not forget, ABC renewed Roseanne for a second season, one episode in! They supported this decision saying the show portrayed realistically, the economic problems of working-class families and reflect conservative political views. Really?! Meanwhile, they would not allow Blackish to air an episode addressing the right of NFL players to kneel. I am sorry, they get no applause for finally doing the right thing after knowingly doing the wrong thing.

    Liked by 1 person

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