Roseanne is the latest classic sitcom to return to television and comment on the new era it now finds itself in. But the revival has stirred controversy and sparked debate due to its unconventional take on Donald Trump.
Roseanne Barr, the creator of the hit sitcom, is herself a rare Hollywood celebrity who voted for Trump and continues to support him. Naturally, then, the rebooted series is somewhat pro-Trump, something rarely found on television networks other than Fox News. However, it actually isn’t quite as favorable to the president as you might expect.
Here’s a look at what the new Roseanne‘s take on Trump has been thus far, and why some supporters of the president might not actually be happy with it going forward.
Roseanne Conner voted for Trump because he talked about jobs
The first episode of the Roseanne revival quickly confirms that Roseanne Conner voted for Trump. She explains that she did so because Trump talked about jobs and said he was going to shake things up. “I mean, this may come as a complete shock to you, but we almost lost our house the ways things are going,” she explains to a Hillary Clinton supporter on the show.
Roseanne also refers to Clinton as “the worst person on Earth” and a “liar, liar, pantsuit on fire.” Later, when she says grace, Roseanne thanks God for “making America great again.”
This was a sitcom airing in primetime on one of the biggest TV networks in the world with a main character who supports Trump. Needless to say, this is not common.
Next: This character on the show couldn’t disagree with Roseanne more.
Her sister, Jackie, is staunchly anti-Trump
But not everyone on the Roseanne revival feels this same way about Trump. One of the primary storylines in the very first episode is that Roseanne is in a huge fight with her sister, Jackie, who hates Trump. She dramatically bursts into the scene wearing a “nasty woman” t-shirt and calling Roseanne a deplorable.
The show definitely doesn’t portray Jackie in a negative light as if to declare that being anti-Trump is a bad thing. In one scene, when Roseanne voted for Trump because he’d shake things up, Jackie responds to her sister by saying, “Have you looked at the news? Because things are worse.”
Next: The show gets in a few Trump digs in this way.
Jackie jokes about Trump’s failed health care reform
Through Jackie, the show gets in a bunch of Trump slams. For instance, in one scene, Jackie jokes about Trump’s failed attempt to reform the health care system. She asks Roseanne, “Why don’t you get that [bad knee] fixed with the new health care all you suckers got promised?”
In another scene, Jackie suggests that voting for Trump was an “enormous mistake that tears America apart and brings the world to the brink of nuclear apocalypse.”
Next: Why the show, despite Roseanne’s politics, isn’t quite as pro-Trump as you might expect.
Roseanne isn’t always depicted in a favorable light
Although it’s true that Roseanne is more pro-Trump than most sitcoms, a key factor here is the fact that Roseanne isn’t always depicted in a positive light. Just take a look at Roseanne’s response when Jackie tells her that if you watch the news, it’s clear that things are worse under Trump. Roseanne replies, “Not on the real news.”
This elicits a huge laugh from the audience, because clearly what Roseanne said is supposed to be ridiculous. Roseanne’s hatred for her sister is so over-the-top that she puts up a shrine as if she were dead, and she calls her names like “snowflake.”
Roseanne also comes out of the episode looking like a judgmental bully who makes people who disagree with her feel stupid. At one point, she says without any self-awareness, “It is not my fault that I just happen to be a charismatic person who’s always right about everything.”
When Jackie apologizes, Roseanne doesn’t apologize back; she just says, “I forgive you.” So needless to say, the show is not 100% in her corner (and it’s not 100% in Jackie’s corner, either).
Next: This is another reason the show isn’t so pro-Trump.
Roseanne is the only character to express support for Trump
In addition to the fact that Roseanne herself isn’t always meant to be sympathetic, there’s the fact that she’s the only one on the entire show who seems to support Trump. During the Trump debate in the first episode, no member of the family besides Jackie ever chimes in about it. It’s left vague whether Dan, or anyone else, actually voted for him.
If the whole family were pro-Trump, Roseanne could be viewed as a fully conservative show. But instead, it’s more focused on depicting a political debate between two sisters. It’s up to you to decide which one is right and whether either of them is being reasonable.
Next: Some conservatives have taken issue with the show for this reason.
The show itself is not very socially conservative
Roseanne mentions that she voted for Trump because he was going to “shake things up.” It doesn’t seem that social issues had anything to do with it. In fact, the show is actually somewhat progressive when it comes to its social politics.
In Episode 2, Roseanne’s grandson, Mark, wants to wear girls’ clothing to school. The entire family is accepting of this, warning him that other kids might pick on him, but also suggesting that he can do what he wants and should embrace who he truly is. Even Roseanne, who is theoretically the conservative mouthpiece, is behind him. She asks Mark whether he feels like a boy or a girl and then defends him at school.
Some conservative commentators have actually taken issue with Roseanne for this very reason. Ben Shapiro argues that the show is dishonest about Trump supporters, acting as if the only reason someone would vote for him would be to fix the economy and not because of any social issues. Even some liberals don’t like the new Roseanne for this same reason, saying that its depiction of Trump supporters is a fantasy.
Executive producer Whitney Cummings herself told The Hollywood Reporter that after the premiere, the next eight episodes are “going to piss off conservatives.”
Next: Not everyone behind the show shares Barr’s point-of-view.
Many of the writers are anti-Trump
Another important piece of all of this is the fact that many — maybe even most — of the writers on the new Roseanne hate Donald Trump.
For instance, one of the writers and executive producers of the revived series is Whitney Cummings, who certainly does not share Barr’s personal politics. She said in an interview with Larry King in 2017 that she’s concerned “about the state our country is in that so many people thought it was a good idea to vote for [Trump].”
And in a column for Vulture, Cummings said she saw the new Roseanne as an opportunity to explore people who she does not agree with politically and who voted differently than her. She also compared watching Roseanne to going home and listening to relatives that you disagree with.
Reflecting the fact that most of the show’s writers are liberal, Barr told The Hollywood Reporter that she had to urge them to put Clinton jokes into the premiere’s script; at first, it was just Trump slams.
Next: How Trump himself has responded to the new show.
Trump has taken some credit for the show’s high ratings
The ratings for the Roseanne revival were absolutely massive, with about 25 million people watching either live or via DVR. That is nothing short of historic.
There are a lot of potential reasons for this. But certainly, the fact that the show depicts Trump voters in a somewhat favorable light is likely at least one contributor. Trump himself seems to think so, as he said during a rally a few days after the premiere, “it was about us!”
However, when TMZ asked Barr how she felt about Trump in some way taking credit for the ratings, Barr responded, “it’s all me!”
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