Movies & TV

‘Roseanne’ revival reflects age of Trump

PASADENA, Calif.: The revival of hit 1990s television comedy “Roseanne” will show how a politically divided, working-class American family grapples with daily life and challenges after the election of U.S. President Donald Trump. Walt Disney Co.’s ABC broadcast network is bringing back “Roseanne,” starring Roseanne Barr and John Goodman, for nine episodes starting March 27.

In the new episodes, the titular Roseanne (Barr), is now a grandmother who voted for Trump and at times clashes with family members and friends with opposing views, the show’s cast and producers said at a Television Critics Association event.

“Roseanne” is the latest hit show from the 1980s and 1990s to be revived, on the heels of comedy “Will & Grace” and supernatural crime drama “Twin Peaks,” both of which returned to television in 2017.

Airing from 1988 to 1997, the original “Roseanne” was the most-watched show on U.S. television in 1989 and 1990. It featured a blue-collar family, the Conners, with overweight parents struggling to get by in the fictional town of Lanford, Illinois.

The series was praised for its realistic portrayal of a working-class family in the United States, and Barr said she wanted the revival to also present a true-to-life portrait of a country in which half the voters chose Trump.

“It was the working-class people who elected Trump,” Barr said. “I felt that was very real and something that needed to be discussed.”

Barr herself has spoken in support of Trump, but the show’s producers said the series does not advocate a political stance. “There is no agenda on anybody’s part,” said executive producer Bruce Helford, “but to get honest feelings out there within a family that’s relatable.”

Many original cast members returned for the revival including Goodman, who plays Roseanne’s husband Dan, and Sara Gilbert, who portrays daughter Darlene.

Gilbert said the new episodes show a family “that is divided by politics but still filled with love.”

The revival will also deal with topical issues such as opioid addiction, Helford said, and access to health care.

Michael Fishman, who plays Roseanne’s son D.J., said the show lets the characters debate important issues in a way that does not always happen in today’s real-life society.

“We have the conversation about why we don’t agree,” Fishman said. “That dialogue is kind of missing.”

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on January 10, 2018, on page 12.

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