Earlier this week, the reboot of “Roseanne” kicked off with a smashing average of more than 18 million viewers. The blue-collar family sitcom, which ended more than 20 years ago, brought the lovable Roseanne back to mainstream television as a President Trump-supporting protagonist.
Shortly after the ratings were released, President Trump personally called the show’s star, Roseanne Barr and congratulated her on the success.
Both Trump and Roseanne were able to tap into the often overlooked and underserved working-class audience. Not surprisingly, the top TV markets where Roseanne delivered its highest ratings were in states handily carried by Trump in the election. No. 1 was Tulsa in Oklahoma, which Trump won with 65.3% of the vote. It was followed by Cincinnati, Ohio and Kansas City, Missouri. The only marquee city from a blue state in the Top 10 was Chicago at No. 5 — the area where the series is set. ABC focused some of its marketing efforts in the region with a preview of the revival at the 54th Chicago International Film Festival.
The top market of the country, New York, was not in the Top 20; No.2 Los Angeles was not in the Top 30. And yet, Roseanne delivered the highest demo rating for any comedy telecast in 3 1/2 years, since the fall 2014 season premiere of TV’s biggest comedy series of the past five years, The Big Bang Theory.
Somehow Roseanne transcended age, recruiting droves of young viewers for a show whose two leads, Roseanne Barr and John Goodman, are both 65, well outside of the 18-49 demo. It tapped into the zeitgeist of Middle America, tackling its economic problems — and political leanings — head-on. There was curiosity how Roseanne would address Trump, which the show did in the first episode. In an encouraging sign, the novelty did not wear off, with the second episode rating even higher than the opener.
I am so greatful to the fans of the Roseanne show for giving it a good Premiere rating. You are all wonderful-here is to making America laugh & talk again! LOVE U
— Roseanne Barr (@therealroseanne) March 28, 2018
On Tuesday night, Roseanne’s reboot premiered — and it blew up in the ratings. Fully 18.2 million Americans between the ages of 18-49 watched the show. It received a 5.1 rating. It was the best Tuesday night premier for ABC since 2006. Americans tuned in in shocking numbers.
Many conservatives are overjoyed at this — they see it as a cultural moment of great import, because Roseanne’s character is a Trump supporter. She shellacks Hillary on the show. Her sister, a purported Hillary supporter, couldn’t even bring herself to vote Hillary — she voted for Jill Stein.
Conservatives are celebrating because they believe that Roseanne is helping to cure the culture by depicting a Trump supporter as something other than a rube or an idiot. There’s some truth to this: Roseanne’s character is whip-smart and unwilling to take crap from anyone — she’s sort of a female mini-Trump in terms of personality.
As the Hill reports, President Trump personally called Barr over the ratings success:
Roseanne Barr says she chatted about “television and ratings” in a congratulatory phone call with President Trump following the premiere of her self-titled sitcom.
“Roseanne” debuted to stellar ratings for ABC on Tuesday, reportedly averaging 18.1 million viewers to the politically charged show. Barr plays a Trump supporter on the show who clashes politically with her family. In real life, Barr has expressed support for Trump.
“We just kind of had a private conversation, but we talked about a lot of things and he’s just happy for me,” Barr said in a Thursday interview with George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” describing her chat a day earlier with the commander in chief.
“I’ve known him for many years and he’s done a lot of nice things for me over the years,” Barr continued, on her conversation with Trump. “And it was just a friendly conversation about working and television and ratings.”
“He really understands ratings and how they measure things,” the actress added. “And that’s kind of been an interest of mine too.”
The continued success of the show could result in reboots of other 1990s classic sitcoms, Deadline reports:
Meanwhile, if Roseanne continues to be a ratings juggernaut, ABC, which is close to renewing the revival for a second season, should look into bringing back its other big blue-collar sitcom hit of the 1990s, Home Improvement, which starred another open Trump supporter, Tim Allen.
ABC was strongly criticized by the right in May when it canceled Allen’s long-running sitcom Last Man Standing despite its strong viewership. It was a rare broadcast comedy with a central character who is a political conservative and devout Christian adhering to traditional American values that appeals to viewers in the Heartland.
With The Middle is going away, there is a vacuum in representing middle-class families on broadcast TV, and the success of Roseanne no doubt will help get more blue-color sitcoms on the air. We might see that happening as soon as next month when the broadcast networks pick their new series for next season out of the dozens of pilots currently in production.