An astonishing 21 years after Roseanne went off air, the classic working class sitcom has weathered intense controversy following revelations the title character would be depicted as a strong supporter of President Donald Trump. The divisive move saw numerous Twitter users pledging to boycott the show in the days before its debut.
But that seemed to have little impact in the real world, with the show’s first two back-to-back episodes pulling in blockbuster figures.
The two episodes captured 18.1 million viewers, with the Hollywood Reporter calling it the ‘highest-rated regularly-scheduled scripted show of the last few seasons, as well as the highest-rated sitcom in recent memory’. Industry website Deadline reported the figures had 'stunned' predominantly left-wing Hollywood, and 'prompted soul searching'.
The show performed best in the working class heartland of the country, with less extreme ratings in New York and LA.
In contrast, the recent Will & Grace relaunch – whose characters are definitely at the opposite end of the political spectrum – caught 10 million viewers.
‘I am so grateful to the fans of the Roseanne show for giving it a good Premiere rating,’ Roseanne tweeted, to a mixture of praise and naked hostility from the Twitterverse. ‘You are all wonderful — here is to making America laugh & talk again! LOVE U.’
Despite the hype, the show did not prove to be a deluge of right wing politics, or politics of any kind, although one prominent subplot in the first episode dealt with the bitter falling out between Trump-loving Roseanne, and her Clinton supporting sister Jackie. Defying some expectations, another plot line dealt with Roseanne’s sympathetic and supportive attitude to her gender-fluid grandson.
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