Let's get this out of the way: Roseanne Barr is a terrible politician. She doesn't attend meetings or campaign events, choosing to speak to voters over Skype from her Hawaiian macadamia nut farm. She dozes off before a debate. Her platform is vague, and at one point includes an argument to bring back the guillotine. She puts her campaign in the hands of a Minnesota woman who drives off the road while conducting radio interviews from behind the wheel, and she nearly saws her thumb off while making campaign signs. She bad-mouths her Green Party opponent, Jill Stein, on camera. She doesn't understand why people wouldn't automatically vote for a famous person who was on TV, but in the end doesn't even cast her vote for herself. She votes for Obama. All of this is documented in hilarious detail in Roseanne for President!, a documentary from IFC Films about Barr's 2012 presidential campaign. The film, which premieres in theaters and online today (July 1), follows the Emmy-winning actress as she vies for the Green Party nomination opposite party favorite Jill Stein. When that fails, she moves on to the Peace and Freedom Party, securing their nomination and ultimately receiving 61,971 votes in the general election. As a politician, Barr is her trademark brash and outspoken self, airing her views while smoking a joint as she drives. She doesn't like shaking hands, and is prone to foul-mouthed personal attacks on Stein. She sees Rachel Maddow and Jon Stewart as "token" figures promoted by the liberal media. She's frustrated that her fame hasn't propelled her to political glory. But there's a softness, too, most evident in her playful banter with her grandson, her teary conversations with her mother, and her patience when campaign manager Farheen calls to announce another campaign setback.
Ultimately, she learns that being famous and opinionated aren't necessarily enough to get elected — something Donald Trump, whom Barr has recently supported in interviews, should perhaps bear in mind. But if Barr isn't fit for any kind of public office, she does deserve a platform of some sort. Remove the political underpinnings of Roseanne for President! and you've got the story of a woman who survived a near-fatal accident and a stint in a mental hospital, a "domestic goddess" who spun her blue-collar lifestyle into comedy gold, and an entertainer who fought for taboo topics (homosexuality, poverty, teenage sex) to be aired during primetime. Yes, she also grabbed her crotch while singing the National Anthem, but we've seen worse. You don't have to agree with her politics to appreciate Barr. The documentary has her referencing a TV project falling through, which is a shame. Her realness and snark would be welcome on our TV screens. She may no longer be the snarling housewife she once was, but she's still got that survivor mentality, razor-sharp wit, and affinity for the disenfranchised. We'll take that over every single one of the laugh-track, lowest-common-denominator comedies out there.