Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I've been dissed by the star of one of my favorite shows!

Holy shit.

Okay, quick backstory. About a month ago, MoveOn.Org ran a clip from the Roseanne show under the headline,
What If Everyone Understood Today What Roseanne Understood Then?

Good clip, right? I agree. However--I freely admit--I get a little twitchy when I think writers aren't being given proper credit. So I did some quick searching and then made this comment on the Facebook version of the MoveOn post--
I think you mean what if everyone understood today what Jeff Abugov, Joel Madison and Ron Nelson knew then. They're the ones who actually wrote the episode.

--and then I don't think I've thought about it since.

Apparently, however, a fan of Roseanne * went to her blog and asked about it, saying,
Roseanne, do you know who the fuck Ben A. Varkentine is?

And lo and behold, she replied.
if you read the comments--one guy says that the three writers whose names are on the script wrote the lines, but that isn't how tv works at all--people get their names on a script according to a ledger--when it's their turn to get their names on a script--the roseanne show was written by at least fifteen people each script--and then I added jokes and thoughts and scenes to it and it was sent back and "gang punched up"...

Now. I'm actually aware that most TV is "gang written" and Roseanne was no exception. Thing is, not having been on the set myself, the only guide I have as to who wrote what is the credits. So did the three guys who were credited actually not write that scene? Maybe.

Did Roseanne? Funny, she doesn't say so. But after all, she delivered the lines (and did a good job) and the show was named after her. It appears that she would like us to infer that we might as well assume she wrote them all.

Certainly she doesn't name any other writer or writers who might be responsible, either. It's also worth noting that her relationship with most if not all of the Roseanne writers was famously abusive and belittling.

Speaking of which. Back on her blog, she then said this...

--so this guy ben k.v. who thinks he knows something --quite simply knows nothing.

Well. The easy shot is that I do at least know that my latter two initials are A & V, not K and V. But let's overlook that--she was probably in a hurry, and the name "Varkentine" has confused people better than me, you, or she. But I'm less inclined to overlook her parting shot "at" me:
Nice try though, boy--always trying to separate the woman from her work.

Well thank you, little lady, for always assuming sexism if someone doesn't like your work (or in this case, does like your work (much of it, anyway--see below), but questions whether you deserve all 100% of the credit for it).

The thing is--Roseanne is one of my favorite shows. To name just one example of why, I think the two-part story in which Roseanne's sister Jackie is beaten by her boyfriend should be a model of how to do a "very special" episode.

I think it really tried to examine, within its restrictions, the different and varying thoughts and feelings women and men have about violence. And it did so while remaining really funny, but without resorting to a compulsive need to "lighten" a very dark subject.

I think the Conners showed better than 97% of other sitcoms what a real American family was like in the '90s. ...up to a certain point.

(I mark the disintegration as beginning with the arrival of the not-Becky. Nothing against Sarah Chalke--as she would go on to show on Scrubs, she's a talented actress--but that's where the show's fictional reality began to thin, until it was finally torn up completely. By the time of the ending, oh god was it waiting to die.)

I have no problem acknowledging that Roseanne probably deserves the queen's share of the credit for why the show was so good, when it was so good. Characters like Roseanne, Dan and Darlene Conner had rarely if ever been shown before on television.

However, I think she deserves the queen's share of the credit. Not all of it. And I also think she deserves at least as much blame for why when the show got bad, it got so bad. In that regard, I suppose I should just be grateful that Roseanne didn't see these thoughts of mine on the series, written a few years ago:

It's ironic, but I really think you can trace the decline of this show by how much power Roseanne had over her character.

In the first years, Roseanne Conner is a strong, funny, loving woman. At the end, she's controlling, grim, and hateful.

Or that I said that the "real" her irritated me (and that was before all this!).

Then she might really have gotten angry.

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