Millions of people (18.2, to be precise) tuned into the premiere episode of the ABC Roseanne reboot on Tuesday night, making it one of the most successful comedy launches over the past four years, Entertainment Weekly reports. The series, which follows the working-class Conner family from Illinois, even drew more viewers than NBC's heart-wrenching drama, This Is Us, which has held consistently strong ratings since its debut in 2016.
Though no one doubted the show revival would be a success, it's hard to imagine anyone thought it could have been this well received, especially considering how polarizing the show's lead, Roseanne Barr's personal political views have been for some fans. Barr, as well as her TV character, is an ardent Trump supporter. But, as Refinery29's own Ariana Romero reported, her views seem to actually enhance, rather than detract from, the series' overall plot.
The Conner family is a perfect example of white American working-class folks living in so-called flyover states. They're more worried about making enough to pay their taxes than they are about which Kardashian did what this week in the tabloids.
That's not to say they all hold the same beliefs, though. In the revamped version, Jackie (Laurie Metcalf), is an outspoken Clinton supporter who argues with her sister over her social and political beliefs, one of Darlene's (Sara Gilbert) kids, Mark (Ames McNamara), is gender non-conforming, and D.J.'s (Michael Fishman) daughter, Mary (Jayden Rey) is Black. It's the diversity of views and lifestyles, Barr told The New York Times, that will make the revival so relatable to Americans who are still grappling with the aftermath of the 2016 election.
"I just wanted to have that dialogue about families torn apart by the election and their political differences of opinion and how we handle it," she said of her decision to make Barr a Trump supporter. "I thought that this was an important thing to say at this time."
She also said that she believes the Conners are an accurate depiction of the average Trump voter, who's main objective is to find work and keep building a life that's sustainable for their families.
"There's an arc in this season, and it's the closest I've been to doing what I want to do," she said. "It's about everything in our country. It's about opioids and health care. How we deal with whole new issues that we didn't even have before, like gender-fluid kids. How working class people — how and why they elected Trump."
The goal of these storylines, she said, isn't to divide people; instead, she hopes it sparks a conversation that can help repair some of the deep divisions in our current society. She reiterated this sentiment in a tweet on Wednesday.
"I am so greatful [sic] to the fans of the Roseanne show for giving it a good Premiere rating," she wrote. "You are all wonderful-here is to making America laugh & talk again! LOVE U."
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
Will the series actually be able to change hearts and minds across the country? It's not clear just yet. But, for all of our sakes, let's hope it keeps trying.