After airing its final episode more than 20 years ago, Roseanne, the beloved working-class ’90s sitcom, is returning to ABC for a limited eight-episode run in 2018. The show will feature the return of the entire original cast, along with several new characters, including one that may end up making television history. According to a recent casting call, the reboot will feature a new character — believed to be Roseanne’s grandson Mark — who will identify as gender-fluid. If this turns out to be true, it would be a groundbreaking moment for TV, making Roseanne the first mainstream network sitcom to feature a gender-fluid character in the main cast.
Despite this being a potentially exciting development for an already highly anticipated show, not everyone is happy about this news. One Million Moms, a website created by the American Family Association “with the stated goal of mobilizing parents to ‘stop the exploitation of children’ by the media,” has already expressed its displeasure with the possibility of Roseanne having a gender-fluid grandchild. The website, which has long fought to keep progressive values off of America’s televisions, quickly created an online petition, urging mothers across America to sign and stand up against “the sexualization and moral corruption of these children.” Along with incorrectly identifying gender-fluidity as moral corruption, the petition also falsely states that transgender people are suffering from a “mental disorder.”
Despite its name, One Million Moms has only managed to amass 7,730 signatures on their online petition, which means they’re probably not going to convince ABC to pull the plug on Roseanne anytime soon. But this isn’t the first time the conservative activist group has expressed outrage against social equality and it certainly won’t be the last. In the past, they’ve has targeted TV shows, celebrities, and sponsors for their promotion of socially deviant values and behavior.
If Roseanne is truly going to feature a gender-fluid character, it will be a massive moment for television. Only 20 years ago, Ellen Degeneres broke barriers for the LGBTQ community when she came out on her titular show, but trans and gender fluid communities have still been underrepresented on the television landscape. Recently, cable and streaming shows like Transparent, Better Things, and Difficult People have explored transsexuality and gender-fluidity through characters, but having an openly gender-fluid character on an already beloved network reboot would be groundbreaking.