Notorious kiss was played for laughs

March 02, 1994|By David Zurawik | David Zurawik,Sun Television Critic

Last night's "Roseanne" should have been titled "Lucy Goes to a Gay Bar" not "The Kiss."

Oh sure, the much publicized lesbian kiss was there between Roseanne and a character played by Mariel Hemingway. And it was at least 3 1/2 seconds, just like ABC wouldn't confirm it would be.

But there was nothing very sensual or explicit about it.

The context was that Roseanne goes to a gay bar mainly to prove she's "cool" to co-worker Nancy (Sandra Bernhard). At the bar, she dances with Nancy's girlfriend, Sharon (Hemingway). After lots of dancing, she and Sharon sit down at a table. That's when Sharon tells Roseanne how much she likes her and then kisses Roseanne.

Hemingway threw herself into the kiss, but the camera showed viewers only her back. What viewers mostly saw was Roseanne's face, with her eyes registering surprise. In fact, her eyes flew open, with the eyelashes batting back against her forehead, just like Lucy when she would wander out of the Ricardos' apartment and into some realm she didn't understand. It was played for laughs, not titillation.

The kiss came at the halfway point in the show. The last 15 minutes was spent discussing it -- how Dan felt about it, how Roseanne felt about it, how Nancy felt about it, how everybody felt about it.

ABC's promotional packaging made this episode into a spectacle of hype. But Roseanne Arnold is taking "Roseanne" into adult and necessary places, where no other sitcom has had the nerve to go.

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