The revival of “Roseanne” is a hit according to the blockbuster ratings ABC got for its premiere last week. The relaunch of the 10th season of “Roseanne” came after the ninth season ended in 1997, 21 years ago when Bill Clinton was President. Now viewers are tuning is to see how the Conner family is doing in our current world under the Trump administration.
The sitcom, starring outspoken comedienne Roseanne Barr, focuses on a funny working-class family with opposing viewpoints. If they can all get along, why can’t we?
‘For my show, I have always attempted to portray a realistic portrait of the American people…’
During the interview session for Roseanne at the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour, ABC put the entire main cast and creative team on the panel. On hand to talk about the series were stars and executive producers Roseanne Barr and Sara Gilbert, plus John Goodman, Laurie Metcalf, Michael Fishman, Lecy Goranson, Sarah Chalke, Emma Kenney, Ames McNamera and Jayden Rey. Executive producers Tom Werner, Bruce Helford and Whitney Cummings also fielded questions, but it was Roseanne’s personal support for President Trump that seemed to generate the most persistent interest with the press.
When first ask about how she came up with the idea to make her character a Trump supporter and use that as material in the premiere, Barr passed the question to producer Bruce Helford. Then Helford noted, “We had a lot of discussions in the very beginning about all of our beliefs, about all the things we feel, and issue by issue things we were going to decide what to deal with on the show. What we really wanted to do was find a way for this particular family (to) represent a full cross section of values and beliefs.”
Helford added, “Everybody in the family has a different take on things, and we wanted to get that debate going in a very real way. So, whether you’re pro-Trump, or anti-Trump, it was really about getting that dialogue going in an honest way. There is no agenda on anybody’s part, but to get honest feelings out there, within a family that’s relatable. And there is really no show that we could think of that’s dealing with these kinds of issues, or they can’t, honestly. We have a place, I think a beloved place, in the hearts of the American viewers, and we wanted to get out there and do something that we felt would be valuable to maybe healing things and putting everybody’s cards on the table.”
Sara Gilbert, who doesn’t share Roseanne’s support for Trump, is also a producer as well as playing Roseanne’s daughter Darlene. She also addressed the issue of bringing politics into the family sitcom scripts. Gilbert said, “I think this is a time, as we all know, where our country is very divided. And we did have a wonderful opportunity to talk about this in the context of a family, and I think part of what’s going on is that people feel like they can’t disagree and still love each other or still talk to each other. So, to me, it was a great opportunity to have a family that can be divided by politics, but still is filled with love. What a great thing to bring into this country right now.”
Eventually Roseanne, who expressed pride in being one of the writers, had her say and told the gathering of TV critics, “For my show, I have always attempted to portray a realistic portrait of the American people and of working class people. In fact, it was working class people who elected Trump. So, I felt that, yeah, that was very real, and something that needed to be discussed. And especially about polarization in the family, and people actually hating other people for the way they voted, which I feel is not American. In the Roseanne shows I’ve always tried to have it be a true reflection of the society we live in. So, I feel like half the people voted for Trump, and half didn’t, so it’s just realistic.”
Roseanne airs Tuesday nights at 8 pm on ABC. Tune in.
This reporter is not a Trump supporter, but I will defend Roseanne’s right to have a different opinion and not hate her for it.
Margie Barron is a member of the Television Critics Association and has written for a variety of top publications for more than 35 years and was proud to be half of the husband and wife writing team of Margie and Frank Barron.