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“Roseanne” Reboot Premieres With A Lot To Say About Trump’s America

The sitcom classic is the latest TV show to get a reboot, with highly anticipated political undertones. Episode one of the Roseanne reboot premiered Tuesday night with a lot of familiar faces from the original cast and two sisters who have starkly different views on President Trump.


“Roseanne” first premiered in 1988 on ABC and ran for nine seasons. Critics lauded the show for its groundbreaking portrayal of working-class Americans as well as its ability to juggle biting comedy and touching drama. It was a massive hit, commercially and critically, and has been in syndication since.

In the weeks leading up to the show’s new premiere this week on March 27, the cast made the rounds in the media to promote it—from the South by Southwest film festival in Austin, Texas to fellow ABC programs, “Good Morning America” and “The View.”

Roseanne reboot doesn’t skimp on politics

In nearly all of these appearances, the discourse could not separate politics from the show, aptly. Politics permeate our lives more than ever in our polarized country—and “Roseanne” has always aimed for a portrayal that is true to life, tackling issues great and small.

In real life, the star of the show, Roseanne Barr, is an outspoken political person, openly endorsing Trump in the last election—not to mention running for office herself in 2012. Barr had long been viewed as a liberal based on her progressive views on issues like abortion and LGBTQ rights. She also attended the 1993 inauguration of then-president-elect Bill Clinton.

This time around, her fictional counterpart is a Trump voter—mirroring Barr herself, and other Americans of her ilk presumably. Barr has stated in press interviews that this also reflects the political divide that runs right through families in the U.S. today.

In the premiere episode this week, that issue is duly addressed: the character Roseanne Conner and her sister, played by Laurie Metcalf, represent the two sides of the last presidential election—and cautiously come to terms with their differences.

The show has taken pains to depict other social mores of our times too. The new cast includes a biracial child, reflecting the increasingly diverse and multicultural families more common in small towns now. Co-star and Executive Producer Sara Gilbert divulged how producers researched a town in Illinois for inspiration for the show, noting the increasing ethnic diversity there. Also on the show is a child who blurs gender lines in how he dresses and expresses himself.

Other current shows such as the “Will and Grace” revival have gamely tackled the new political climate too, but perhaps with “Roseanne” it may be even more effective since the show has always done it so adeptly, and their multigenerational cast lends it a broad scope. It also undeniably lends a voice to middle America, which often isn’t given a platform in the current sitcom climate.

The new season of Roseanne airs on Tuesdays, 8/7 pm Pacific/Central time, on ABC.


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