Hello all! This is the second half of our talk about “White Men Can’t Kiss,” Roseanne‘s episode about implicit racism and its effects. Here, we continue to deal with what we found especially effective about this episode, as compared to “very special” episodes about race on other TV series – 90210, for example. Starting with Dan’s awkward conversation with Chuck during the guys’ poker game through to the final scene in which Roseanne encounters Gina’s father (and her own racist assumptions), we unpack the successes and failures of the racial politics of this episode. While we do talk about the present, and the racism of our subject’s titular source, we spend our time primarily on this single episode. We hope you’ll listen and tell us your thoughts.
We’ve been wanting to do this one for a while, and the moment seemed right. This is the first half of our discussion of the classic Roseanne episode, “White Men Can’t Kiss,” in which DJ is supposed to kiss a girl (his future wife, Gina) in the school play, and doesn’t want to, because she is Black. DJ’s racist response creates conflict and concern between Dan and Roseanne, who both newly recognize and reveal some of the racist attitudes that they both unconsciously hold. In our conversation, we talk about what the episode does that feels very progressive, even now, and we try to unpack ways that this episode and the two series have missed opportunities to do and say even more about anti-Black racism. We are pretty academic and serious here, but we also accidentally talk for too long about Shia LeBouf and the movie Cocktail, as well as our mutual love of hand-me-down, mismatched bedsheets. We’ll post the second half in the very near future, so stay tuned!