Iconic Out TV Moments: “Nancy is a Lesbian?!”

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There’s a lot of talk these days about the increased visibility of queer folk on TV. And while this is certainly true, there is one woman who repped lady love on mainstream TV way back when, back before any state had marriage equality, before Glee was even a glimmer in Ryan Murphy’s eye, even before Ilene Chaiken.

And that woman is Roseanne, y’all.

Gayer shows and characters may have come our way since Roseanne went off the air in 1997, but no one has covered both feminism and queerness in such blue collar realness since.

In season 5, episode 8, one of the most hilarious and touching coming out moments on TV premiered when Roseanne first introduces lesbianism. When Jackie and Roseanne press Nancy about a new guy she’s been seeing, she eventually comes out with, “Her name’s Marla.”

After Roseanne and Jackie both get over their shock, which is full of still gut-splitting comedic pauses, Roseanne’s first question is, “So — did you do it?” I love this so much. No one cries, no one storms off in anger, and this entire coming out is hilarious instead of dramatic. Nancy admits she didn’t know how they would react, to which Roseanne, as always, has the perfect reply: “We’d react the same way we react when you tell us anything personal. We make fun of you until it gets old, and then we move on.” Bravo, show. Bravo. And this aired in 1992, folks.