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Rosie O’Donnell: "When she was good, she was very, very…"

23 Feb
Rosie O’Donnell might be viewed by an uncharitable person as someone who keeps trying to fill a large hole with something: she’s keeps adopting kids, new ones with new spouses, as the original set age out; new houses; new spouses, who are actually spouses, not just lovers; food; drink; money; and disappearances from and reappearances in, TV shows like The View.

My natural inclinations do include those toward the uncharitable, because Rosie is one of those half wit, ill educated, fools, who get to influence the public in a pincer movement (the other side being state funded and credentialed academia).  Like Sandra Bernhard, Jon Stewart, Patricia Arquette, Roseanne Barr, and Ellen Degeneres, Rosie’s formal education was acquired in bars, comedy clubs, and popular magazines, before she got promoted to being educated by proglodyte cocktail parties and leftover network entertainment execs.

I really liked her original TV show, though Ellen did eclipse it in the same way Oprah was better than Donahue.  It had some problems.  The running gag, before she came out, where she claimed to be infatuated with the very heterosexual Tom Cruise, got old.  Since Degeneres was already out by the time she became a talk show queen of nice, she never had to do that.

Rosie has an HBO special in rotation this month that explains a lot of this drama.  She originally left her talk show to spend more time with her kids (in this special, which is mainly biographical and about her family life, her now teen daughter, upset that her mom can no longer intorduce her to the likes of Justin Bieber, tells her this was a “bad decision”).  She started The View when the kids got old enough to not need two at home moms, then left it when she got divorced.  She returned to the show when the kids got older.  She then married, nursed her new lipstick lesbian wife through cancer, adopted another baby, had a heart attack, and then left the show again when she divorced.  Now she is selling one of her houses.

But the special is good as comedy, somewhat free of political preaching, though horrifying in some of its details of her personal life.  It begins with a rather crude and thoughtless story about her son’s circumcision.  She thought she had; she told the doctor to do so.  Her friend Rita Wilson asked her why she didn’t, and Rosie, unfamiliar with what penises look like, said she didn’t realize the baby was uncircumcised.  So they call in Kate Capeshaw and Steven Speilberg’s mohel and did it later.  So the baby woudn’t “look different” or “have a funny penis.”  An odd choice for a preacher for gender non-conformity.

The bits pile up.  All well written, well timed, funny, and well delivered.  But somewhat horrifying, like her depiction of the competitive victim-off she has with her new wife (in a short lived marriage) over whether Rosie’s heart attack or the wife’s cancer was worse.

The set ends with Rosie saying God saved her after she prayed for the first time in years, with the intercession of her observant Catholic mother’s ghost, so she could be here to advocate for women’s cardiac health.  Somehow I don’t think Rosie would allow any conservative politician to make the same type of theological claims.