While fans of the original “Roseanne” are excited about the return of the ’90s-era sitcom, one right-wing “family” advocacy group is freaking out.
One Million Moms (1MM), a division of the American Family Association, launched a boycott against Roseanne Barr’s reboot after reports suggested that one of Roseanne’s grandchildren in the show may be gender fluid.
According to a 1MM official, the inclusion of such a character promotes the “transgender agenda” and is “child exploitation at its worst.” The group also incorrectly referred to transgender individuals as people with “mental disorders.”
Unfortunately, the age of Roseanne’s grandchildren may attract young viewers, so the victims of this outrageous program are the young cast members, not to mention any child who views the show. The sexualization and moral corruption of these children is child exploitation at its worst. No child should be introduced to the experience of mental disorders.
“Roseanne” will return to ABC in 2018 with all the main members of the original cast, plus a few new characters, including David and Darlene’s kids: Harris, a teenage girl, and 9-year-old Mark.
In late June, a source familiar with the reboot told industry news site Showbiz411 that a casting call for Mark said that the character would be “gender creative” and looked for actors who could be “sensitive and effeminate” and display “qualities of both young female and male traits.”
As if it were a bad thing, 1MM said that Mark’s character would be “celebrated by the LGBT community” as the “first ‘gender non-binary’ character to appear on network TV.”
“DNA proves a female is female and a male is male. There is no gray area here and no such thing as ‘gender fluid,’” the organization said in a statement. “ABC is glorifying gender dysphoria, also known as gender identity disorder, and using a child to promote this mental disorder.”
But gender fluidity is not a “mental disorder,” as the conservative group claims.
“Gender extends beyond the clothing we wear and the way that we present ourselves aesthetically to the world,” James Michael Nichols, deputy editor of HuffPost Queer Voices, explained in July.
“It’s a concept inherently tied to the most intimate parts of our human selves,” Nichols added. “For individuals who identify as gender fluid, gender-nonconforming, non-binary, gender creative or other similar identities, gender does not consist of either ‘male’ or ‘female.’”
Including a gender-fluid character on a mainstream show that will likely attract a large variety of viewers gives those who identify as gender-nonconforming a chance to see a character ― a role model or point of inspiration ― to which they can relate. It can also help that segment of the LGBTQ community a to be more visible and, as such, more accepted in a society where they experience verbal and physical abuse at disproportionate rates.
As 1MM pointed out, the original “Roseanne” had already broken barriers for the LGBTQ community when the show aired a controversial lesbian kiss in 1994.
Barr told HuffPost in 2015 that ABC had initially threatened to cancel the entire show if she went through with the kiss storyline, but the network eventually broadcast the episode with a parental advisory warning. And a majority of viewers apparently took no issue with the groundbreaking TV moment.
A 1994 Los Angeles Times report revealed that 75 percent of the show’s viewers who called ABC headquarters after the episode “expressed a favorable reaction.”
1MM is trying to stop another groundbreaking TV moment from happening. The organization asked its followers to boycott the “Roseanne” show by signing its petition and not watching the show.
In seven days, they’ve gathered only 7,873 signatures.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified “Roseanne” as the first show to air a lesbian kiss on network TV. It was a controversial kiss, but the first kiss between two women on TV is believed to be between actresses Michelle Greene and Amanda Donohoe on a 1991 episode of “L.A. Law.”