The New ‘Roseanne’ Revival Has Stunning Ratings and Surprising Politics

The modern interpretation of an all-time loved American sitcom, 'Roseanne' is turning every head with its portrayal of social trends and politics.

The new “Roseanne” revival has come out of nowhere and taken both viewers and its filmmakers by surprise. After a 22 year hiatus, the show’s premiere garnered more attention than anyone had expected with the first two episodes alone, which aired back to back on March 27, and drew a little more than 18 million viewers initially, rounding up to around 25 million after adding the viewers in delayed timing.

This most recent episode (released April 3) managed to gain around 15 million viewers in total, a 40 percent drop in viewers but still an impressive number for a reboot of a sitcom. No one had really expected it to do so well. So what is it about this reboot in particular that is managing to pique people’s interest?

For one, it was the most watched show in the United States from 1989 to 1990 and has long been considered one of the greatest TV series of all time. “Roseanne” was the first show of its kind, in the eyes of many, to realistically portray the life and hardships of the blue-collar American family.

People loved how it dealt with real issues, such as poverty, obesity and employment, and how it was a relatable show about two working parents with three kids. It wasn’t afraid to really dig into life as much as it wasn’t one of those cookie-cutter sitcoms that made life seem peachy keen.

When it was announced that the revival of the show was approved for ABC in May of 2017, people were ecstatic. If the power of nostalgia wasn’t enough to reel them in then the fact that most of the cast is back on board definitely was.

Roseanne Barr, who plays Roseanne Conner, has not only returned to bring life to Roseanne once more, but she was also deeply invested in the creation and writing of this new nine-episode season 10. Actors such as John Goodman, who plays Dan Conner (Roseanne’s husband), and Laurie Metclaf, who plays Jackie Harris (Roseanne’s sister), will be back as well despite plot holes such as Dan’s character being killed off in the season 9 finale.

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The show also turns heads due to the surprisingly open political views of the family, and Roseanne in particular. The revival starts off with Roseanne and Jackie not being on speaking terms since the 2016 U.S. Election.

Though no names are mentioned, it is understood that Roseanne voted for Donald Trump and her sister didn’t take that lightly. She voted for Jill Stein despite not really knowing anything about her (with implications that she supported Hilary).

The show’s political inclinations also reflect Roseanne Barr’s views as well as around half of the production and writers team. The spin this new revival seems to be taking provides a viewpoint for families and people leaning more toward the right wing, and while some people are all for it, it is completely rubbing others the wrong way.

The political views demonstrated in the reboot is inducing some character changes or progressions that stray away from the original series and raise questions regarding its authenticity. For example, the third and most recent episode brings about the topic of discipline.

Darlene (Roseanne’s daughter), now unemployed and living with her two kids in the Conner household once more, has some trouble disciplining her whiny and bratty daughter. Both Roseanne and her husband Dan make it clear that they think corporal punishment is more than alright for the occasion, which eventually leads to Roseanne shoving her granddaughter’s head in the sink and spraying her with the faucet to teach her a lesson.

The inclusion of political factors is keeping the show relevant, but, at the same time, raising some questions of authenticity.

The catch here is that in the original series, Roseanne was really against punishments such as spanking and the likes because of her abusive past with her own father.

It definitely requires some characteristic changes for her to suddenly be fine with a punishment and such changes bring into question what this show is really trying to do. Some people are convinced that the show’s main purpose now is to be a mouthpiece for conservative talking points.

To add to the controversy, apparently, Donald Trump himself ended up calling Roseanne, who’s a Trump supporter in real life herself, to congratulate her on the high rating success the show has gained.

This, of course, caused some turmoil and debate. Some people are calling out the President for making time to congratulate a celebrity for a TV show instead of speaking with most Parkland victims.

Still, though, the call might have only generated more curiosity towards the show and a large number of people firmly agree with and support the series and the beliefs it is portraying. Despite all of the controversy surrounding “Roseanne,” filmmakers have stated that people are over exaggerating it’s focus on politics, only making people more curious about the reboot.

As of March 30, 2018, “Roseanne” has been decidedly renewed for an 11th season consisting of 13 episodes. It seems to be a big hit so far, but its decline in viewers for the second week has people questioning whether or not ABC should’ve been as quick as they were to renew for another season just based on the ratings for the premiere.

“Roseanne” was a beloved show that ran from 1988 to 1997, just a little under 10 years with nine seasons under its belt. It was widely recognized and loved in the U.S. for portraying real life of American families with real issues.

That’s what brought people back to it, and the controversies it’s raising up now are either going to attract people like bees to honey or repel them like opposing magnets. The show surprised everyone with its high rating for the premiere, and it definitely startled people with the decision to bring forth controversial politics to the table.

There’s no way to predict if the show will continue garnering attention or flop, but it’s certainly caused a stir. Who knows, it might keep on bringing surprises.

Valeria Garcia, University of Texas at Austin

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Valeria Garcia

University of Texas at Austin
English Major, Creative Writing Minor

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