Politics

When Donald Glover Met Roseanne …

Two TV shows, two moguls, and the shared anxieties of blue and red America

The spectacle of politics and how it fits, or doesn’t, into the nation’s culture. Subscribe to our newsletter here.

The Atlanta-Lanford Express

What do Donald Glover’s Atlanta and Roseanne Barr’s Lanford have in common? At first glance, not a whole lot. 

Glover, left, and Barr (Getty Images)
Actors Donald Glover and Roseanne Barr (Paras Griffin/Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images file photos)

Glover’s FX show, “Atlanta,” is a slice of black American life, the story of a group of friends and some family trying to make it in the titular city’s hip-hop world at the same time they’re trying to make it in, well, the world. 

Barr’s ABC show “Roseanne,” recently rebooted its depiction of white working-class struggles as personified by the fictional Conner family somewhere outside Chicago. Barr kicked off the show this spring with a bang. Both her real self and fictional self are strong supporters of President Donald Trump. It was as if Barr was refashioning herself as a latter-day Archie Bunker, with the caveat that the actor playing Bunker in Norman Lear’s groundbreaking series, Carroll O’Connor, was a die-hard liberal in the manner of Lear himself. 

So what connects these two seemingly disparate series, both of which wrapped their current seasons this month? 

They both show an acute sensitivity to the anxieties of what could be described as the “Desperate Class,” people who are trying their damnedest and it’s just simply not working out. 

Clyde McGrady, a Georgia native, CQ staff writer and observer extraordinaire of pop culture, talks about how each show weaves these anxieties, and touches on political undercurrents, in this week’s Political Theater podcast:

This is [Guns in] America

In addition to his work on the Emmy-winning “Atlanta” and his upcoming star turn as the young Lando Calrissian in the new “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” Glover dropped an already iconic song and video “This is America,” as the Grammy-winning hip-hop singer Childish Gambino.

It just happens to be about the issue that the United States grapples with like no other country, gun violence.

As a matter of fact, members of Congress welcomed to the Capitol on Wednesday students who have been victims or affected by gun violence, part of a Gun Violence Prevention Task Force panel meeting. 

UNITED STATES - May 23: Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., welcomes students who have been effected by gun violence to The Gun Violence Prevention Task Force panel Wednesday afternoon May 23, 2018. (Photo by Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)
Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., welcomes students to the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force panel meeting on Wednesday. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

It’s likely that gun violence will still be discussed come the midterm elections, a point our own columnist Patricia Murphy, she of Atlanta herself, makes in her latest offering for Roll Call: Moms, Guns and 2018

Murphy writes: “With every school shooting that has happened recently, and then faded into the pile of the ones before it, Washington has seemed more and more resigned that nothing can be done to stop the next one. Doing something before the midterms? Don’t be crazy.

But the feeling outside of D.C. is, in fact, the opposite — that something must be done to stop the next one, and it should have happened already. No action before the midterms? Do you know how many school days most kids have between now and Nov. 6? At least 50. That’s 50 drop-offs, 50 days of hoping this isn’t the day, 50 days for women to ask how to solve this terrible problem and why nobody’s trying.”

Speaking of Economic Anxiety

What’s more basic than the price of gasoline when figuring out a budget? Democrats were hoping to capitalize on the recent spike in gas prices by returning to a tried-and-true location: Congressional Exxon, the gas station with even more expensive gas than normal. 

UNITED STATES - MAY 23: Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., left, and Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., conduct a news conference at the Exxon gas station at Massachusetts Avenue and 2nd Street, NE, to urge President Trump to take action to lower gas prices on May 23, 2018. Schumer holds a statistic indicating that gas prices were lower under President Obama. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sen. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., conduct a news conference Wednesday at the Exxon gas station at Massachusetts Avenue and Second Street Northeast to urge President Donald Trump to take action to lower gas prices. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Trekking to Congressional Exxon to blame a political enemy of choice is a familiar tactic, as Roll Call’s Niels Lesniewski recounts about the event: Memorial Day Means a Gas Price Event at Congressional Exxon.

The Kicker

That time a Capitol Police officer left a service weapon in the bathroom. (CQ Roll Call file photo)
That time a Capitol Police officer left a service weapon in a Capitol complex bathroom. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

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