Remembering Roseanne, Domestic Goddess

Curator's Note

The glorification of the upscale “housewife” is hard to miss: From Desperate Housewives to the Real Housewives of Orange County to the attention bestowed upon Caitlin Flanagan’s bestselling tribute To Hell With All That: Loving and Loathing Our Inner Housewife, wealthy and glamorous women deeply ensconced in domestic identities and rituals are everywhere on television. While some of this is parody (think Bree’s obsessive-compulsive homemaking tics), the joke is on women. What’s more, the countless experts who now profess housekeeping, caretaking, cooking and other lost feminine skills on reality TV are quite serious about instilling a new ethic of domestic perfection via the revival of informal home economics training. In this context, one misses Roseanne Barr’s feminist, working class interpretation of the Domestic Goddess—a persona that seems even more radical in retrospect. In this clip, Roseanne offers a wryly-politicized counterpoint to the blow-dried, designer-clad housewives en vogue today, while also exposing the class bias of home economics instruction. Concerned that Darlene’s high school home ec class is receiving an unrealistic education, Roseanne takes the teenage girls to the supermarket, where she shows them how to stretch a meat loaf to feed five people and stresses the importance of buying generic. You won’t see that on Desparate Housewives, or on the Food Channel for that matter. . .

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