For many Republicans, it’s not just a TV show. The return of “Roseanne” is nothing short of a triumphant charge into the breach of the culture wars. More than 18-million viewers watched the debut – far more than anticipated by media analysts - with Roseanne Barr stalking the screen as an unflinching Trump supporter. She lobbed lines like firebombs, with Democrats taking the worst of it.
For example, when her sister seems to suggest a political truce: “I didn’t mean to imply that you’re some right-wing jackass,” Jackie says, “I should have tried to understand why you voted the crazy way you did.” Roseanne’s blistering reply: “And I should have understood that, you know, you want the government to give everyone free healthcare because you’re a good-hearted person who can’t do simple math.”
References to gun rights, nasty women, and deplorables flew in the premiere. So did praise from President Trump afterward. "Over 18 million people,” he crowed in homage to the viewership, “and it was about us!"
And as far as many Republicans are concerned, he’s right. For decades they have raged about what they believe is a Hollywood bias against conservatives and Christians; a tendency for coastal elites to sneer at Americans who attend church, and who balk at progressive reforms. Now conservatives have a new – or rather a rebooted hero – to thrash these tormentors.
To be sure, some of the show’s other characters present contrary viewpoints, much as the supporting cast of “All in the Family” once gave vent to the rising American counterculture. But like Archie Bunker, Roseanne gets the sharpest lines and the loudest laughs. And don’t forget, she is an actual Trump supporter. It could be her talking when her character takes a thinly veiled swipe at Hillary Clinton with the line “liar, liar, pantsuit on fire!”
Just a TV show? Maybe. But for a long time Republicans said the same thing as Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show” whipped Democrats into a frenzy. And with crucial mid-term elections looming – then another presidential race too – a weekly dose of pro-Trump comedy could leave conservatives laughing extra hard.