Between all the revivals and reboots, prequels and sequels, the landscape of television in 2018 doesn’t look all that different from a coal mine, as networks seem determined to extract every ounce of ore they can from all their hits of yesteryear.
Eventually, studios and creators are going to run out of old sitcoms and drama series to mine, but for now, it looks like they are striking gold by playing into viewers’ nostalgia. The latest revival to hit the small screen, ABC’s “Roseanne,” is poised to cash in as well thanks to the surprisingly fresh perspectives offered by its cast of returning, fan-favorite characters.
While the award-winning series has been off the air since 1997, the upcoming 10th season, which debuts on Tuesday night, is a perfect fit for TV in the era of Donald Trump. “Roseanne” broke ground during its initial run for focusing on the trials and tribulations of a blue-collar family, and these themes still feel timely even after more than two decades.
Roseanne Barr is, of course, back in the saddle as the loud and quick-witted Roseanne Conner, who is just as big a fan of the president as her real-life counterpart. While you don’t see too many Trump supporters on TV – aside from on Fox News – it’s refreshing to see these viewpoints in a sitcom setting, especially through the lens of the working-class voters who put him in the White House.
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Although some of the jokes about modern topics like Uber and fake news fall flat at times, the interactions between Roseanne and her various family members still make for hilarious, and often poignant, TV. While it may be hard for some to stomach her pro-Trump views, it’s important to see how these ideas are rooted in the economic fears held by many blue-collar families.
In a scene that has likely played out thousands of times in homes across the country since the 2016 election, Roseanne comes to blows with her Hillary Clinton-supporting, pussyhat-wearing sister Jackie (Laurie Metcalf) during the season premiere. As expected, the duo trades verbal barbs over their presidential allegiances, but eventually find common ground, proving that family is more important than politics.
Roseanne’s love for Trump is perfectly balanced by the viewpoints of the supporting cast, and even the main character herself is more complex than the clichés of conservatives in Middle America would have you believe. For example, despite Roseanne’s opinions about the president, the show surprises viewers with a captivating storyline about her grandson Mark (Ames McNamara), who likes to dress up in clothes that are traditionally for girls.
Roseanne and her hubby Dan (John Goodman) – yes, he’s still alive despite his apparent death in the original run – crack a few crass jokes at Mark’s expense, but it’s clear that they have nothing but love for their grandson and just want to make sure he’s safe and happy. It’s not exactly the reaction you’d expect from pro-Trump characters that seem allergic to politically correctness.
Overall, the “Roseanne” revival is more than just another trip down memory, as it takes an honest look at the lives of working-class families in today's divisive climate, warts and all.
"Roseanne" returns to ABC on Tuesday, March 27 at 8 p.m.