In Standard Gay TV, Louis Peitzmale looks at timeless and also new-classical gay-themed episodes of tv. Was this a significant step forward in LGBT depiction or a cringeworthy relic of the past?


Series: RoseanneEpisode: “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (Season 6, episode 18)Initial Air Date: March 1, 1994

Plot Points: Roseanne and Jackie lastly get to satisfy Nancy’s girlfriend Sharon, played by Mariel Hemingmethod. Sharon invites the sisters to go dancing at a gay bar called Lips. Jackie is weirded out, concerned that everyone will certainly think she’s gay. (“Well, then you can just think they’re gay appropriate earlier at them,” Roseanne says.) Determined to prove she’s cool sufficient to hang, Roseanne agrees to accomplish Nancy and Sharon at the club.

You are watching: Roseanne don t ask don t tell

Once at Lips, Jackie is precisely as freaked out as you’d intend. She even asks Leon to be her fake boyfrifinish, despite the truth that Leon is wearing a (hideous) rainbow sweater. Roseanne has fun tormenting Jackie by pretending they’re a lesbian couple, which doesn’t stop Jackie from getting hit on. Sharon and also Nancy present up, and Roseanne ups her cool element by dancing with them. Then things acquire a tiny awkward in a exclusive minute, as Sharon flirts heavily via Roseanne and also finally kisses her.

Roseanne plays it off prefer it’s no huge deal — she’s advanced, you know — however she’s plainly a tiny freaked out by the totality point. She and Nancy finish up butting heads, not bereason Roseanne kissed Nancy’s girlfrifinish, but bereason Roseanne’s being a total drama queen about the kiss. Nancy accuses Roseanne of being a hypocrite for not embracing her inner lesbian. The friends eventually make up: Nancy tells Roseanne she doesn’t choose to think about what Roseanne does in bed with Dan either.What Makes It Gay: Oh, just about everything. Roseanne and also Jackie go to a gay bar. We view queer characters Nancy and also Leon in their organic aspect. Roseanne kisses a woguy. The same-sex kiss was a substantial conflict at the moment, via ABC initially pulling the episode. (Now ABC airs its fair share of explicitly gay entertainment, although the same-sex smooches are still few and also much in between.) This wasn’t a one-off either — even if Roseanne’s lesbian minute was short lived, Nancy remained queer throughout the series.

How Does It Hold Up: Roseanne remains a more progressive show than the majority of what’s on currently. It’s rare to find such frank depictions of sexuality as a spectrum — Roseanne talks about not being totally directly, and also Nancy days both guys and also women — and also internalized homophobia. The episode is so light and entertaining that it’s straightforward to forobtain exactly how groundbreaking it was, and also that’s maybe the ideal reflection of its affect on LGBT representation.

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Key Lines:“You’ve never been able to accept our different lifestyle. Well, it isn’t a choice, you know.” (Roseanne)

“Is that you, Roseanne? I thought it was a drag queen doing a really bad Liz Taylor.” (Leon)

Roseanne: “Next off time let’s leave the wives at house.”Sharon: “You review my mind.”

Nancy: “Sexuality isn’t babsence and white. There’s a entirety gray area.”Roseanne: “I recognize around the gray location.”Nancy: “And you’re afraid that simply one tiny little percent of you can have been turned on by a woguy.”

Louis Peitzman is a freelance writer in Los Angeles, spending most of his time as the weekfinish editor at Gawker and a contributor to WitStream and also He’s a tiny little Dorothy, a small bit Blanche. You can follow him on Twitter.