Unheard of even five years ago, the practice of rebooting is getting more popular by the minute and for good reason. Take a proven commodity ("Will & Grace," "Full House," "The X-Files," "24," the upcoming "Murphy Brown") with a built-in audience and let her rip. While most succeed, no one (not even ABC) was prepared for the overwhelming numbers generated by the recent incarnation of "Roseanne" which aired the first two episodes a week ago today.
Posting a staggering 5.1 rating and 21 share, it attracted a jaw-dropping 18.16 million viewers, totally crushing rating giants "The Voice" (8.88 million — NBC) and "NCIS" (11.77 million — CBS).
It was number one in every U.S. market except New York and Los Angeles which should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with those city’s political demographics.
Always topical during its first (1988-1997) run, "Roseanne" co-creator/producer/star Roseanne Barr transformed her "domestic goddess" persona from her stand-up routine and attracted audiences most TV shows could care less about (over 50 women with less than model looks).
The show regularly broached sensitive subjects yet rarely crossed the line into full-tilt politics; something that changed radically last Tuesday.
Prior to the broadcast, ABC flooded their airwaves with solid gold sound bite trailers promising potent political content and that is exactly what was delivered. In the age of Trump bashing from every possible media and entertainment outlet, it was refreshingly . . . balanced.
The first indicator the times-were-a-changin' was Roseanne saying grace at the dinner table and ending it with "and thank you for making America great again," much to the consternation of her eldest daughter Darlene (Sara Gilbert) and sister Jackie (Laurie Metcalf), both far-left democrats. Before starting grace she asked Jackie (wearing a "nasty woman" T-shirt and a hat named after a part of the female anatomy) if she wanted to "take a knee," a la Colin Kaepernick.
In the same first half-hour, Roseanne makes an aside at Hillary Clinton referring to her as "a liar, liar pantsuits on fire," further upsetting Jackie. It’s worth mentioning that neither Clinton nor Trump was referred to by name at any point during the two shows and they didn’t have to be — a wise move on the part of the writers.
While the second episode was lower on politics, it still stung with differing opinions coming from the cast members grappling with issues such as "toxic masculinity," surrogate pregnancy, "fake news," odd practices involving placentas, sexual identity and the possible negative fallout of an effeminate, cross-dressing preteen boy.
There was no preaching, no tisk-tisk finger-wagging, just (sometimes loud) opinions and copious amounts of observational humor.
So positive was the reaction — it was all talk radio covered the next few days — ABC decided to rebroadcast the episodes on Sunday Night and on Friday ordered another season. In completing a trifecta, the rebroadcast went up against "60 Minutes" (CBS) and beat it with a 0.8/4 versus a 0.7/3 rating/share — as reported by Nielsen via tvbythenumbers.com.
So what does this all mean? Is this the first step in U.S. programming finally recognizing that everyone in the country who watches TV doesn’t completely hate Donald Trump?
It would appear so.
It will be interesting to see what will unfold during the remainder of this season of "Roseanne." Will Barr, the producers and writers continue the trend of the first two episodes with what any sane person would consider to be "political balance" — allowing right and left family members to present their opinions without resorting to name-calling and fisticuffs?
What might be infinitely more interesting will be the almost certain knee-jerk reaction of the other networks not wanting to miss the boat regarding content that has strong appeal to Red State viewers. You can bet there are executives and writers hard at work as you read this trying their best to clone "Roseanne" 2.0.
Who knows, it might even cause ABC to bring back "Last Man Standing."
In the spring of 2017 — after six seasons of killer ratings — ABC suddenly and with most felt was undue outside political pressure dropped the show starring Tim Allen whose character was unashamedly conservative. It caused outrage from the fan base and at one point Fox was going to pick it up but, not surprisingly it fell victim to contracts, money, and red tape.
In 2004, Citizen Donald J. Trump (and creator Mark Burnett) forever changed TV (or least the reality genre) with "The Apprentice." In 2018, President Trump is changing TV again — and is doing so without any actual direct involvement.
Michael Clark has written for over 30 local and national media outlets and is currently the only newspaper-based film critic providing original content in the Atlanta Top 10 media marketplace and he recently co-founded the Atlanta Film Critics Circle. Over the last two decades, Mr. Clark has written over 3,500 movie reviews and film related articles for the Gwinnett Daily Post and is one of the scant few conservative-minded U.S. critics. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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