The cancellation of “Roseanne” by ABC birthed the backlash one might expect, but those arguing that television has lost its only working-class family should to start channel surfing a little bit more.
The case that Roseanne Conner was one of TV’s few conservative characters? True. Very true. In fact, you could probably count the number of openly conservative characters on scripted television on two hands. (Another, Tim Allen’s Mike Baxter on “Last Man Standing,” will return in fall to Fox, more than a year after the show’s cancellation at ABC.)
It’s also true that the Conner family brought a fresh voice to the plight of blue collar families, with references to how they nearly lost their home due to economic strain and their lack of health care coverage. But the series was not the only scripted comedy delving into American’s socio-economic experiences.
Here are some of the others:
“Speechless” (ABC, recently renewed for Season 3)
What it’s about: A warm-hearted comedy about a teenager named JJ, who has cerebral palsy, and his family.
Storyline example: JJ’s parents try to get on the good side of their insurance agent in order to get coverage for all the equipment and medication JJ needs. “Yeah, having a disability is really expensive. It’s almost not even worth it,” dad Jimmy (John Ross Bowie) cracks at one point. JJ laughs.
“Bob’s Burgers” (Fox, recently renewed for Season 9)
What it’s about: A quirky family who owns a local burger joint
Storyline example: Parents Linda and Bob has made several references to the fact that they live paycheck-to-paycheck. In one scene, Linda is seen on the phone with the bank, instructing them on which checks to let bounce. “Okay, so bounce the check to the power company, bounce the check to the relish guy, but make sure the beef supplier goes through. Without beef, the whole system falls apart.”
“One Day at a Time” (Netflix, recently renewed for Season 3)
What it’s about: An Army veteran and nurse named Penelope (Justina Machado) raises her family with help from her larger-than-life Cuban-born mother.
Storyline example: Penelope’s youngest son wants five new pairs of sneakers (one for every day of the school week), and is quickly shot down. When the boy asks if they’re poor, she says no and points out their various luxuries – a laptop, a TV, an air conditioner. “But you never let us turn it on,” he says of the latter. “The point is, you could,” she retorts before adding, “but don’t.” Though this moment is not a significant part of the episode, it does paint a picture of the family’s economic situation.
“Superstore” (NBC, recently renewed for Season 4)
What it’s about: A group of employees who work at “Cloud 9,” a fictional big-box store in St. Louis, Missouri.
Storyline example: This series is filled with references to the employee’s hardships. For instance, one character, Cheyenne, a young mom, makes note of the fact that she works two jobs to get by – the second particularly because she it allows her daughter to go to a good day care. In another episode, employees set out to find a better alternative to their terrible health plan.
“Mom” (CBS, recently renewed for Season 6)
What it’s about: A newly sober mother (Anna Faris) navigates life with her two kids and her mother, a fellow recovering addict.
Storyline example: In one episode, Chrissy (Faris) considers quitting school to work in real estate after the stress of juggling two jobs, four college classes and kids, becomes overwhelming.
Possibly coming soon
“The Middle” spin-off (ABC)
Per The Hollywood Reporter, ABC is in early stages of development on a spin-off of “The Middle,” which recently went off the air after nine seasons. This show would center on Eden Sher’s bubbly Sue Heck, the only daughter of the family that for nearly a decade highlighted the middle class in a way that hadn’t been seen since, well…”Roseanne.”