March 28, 2018 / 5:17 PM / 8 months ago

'Roseanne' returns with monster TV ratings in Trump era

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - “Roseanne,” the 1990s television comedy about a working-class American family, scored monster ratings on its return to ABC after 20 years, attracting more than 18 million viewers.

FILE PHOTO: Actress Roseanne Barr reacts as she arrives at the 75th Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, California, U.S., January 7, 2018. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/File Photo

Ratings data on Wednesday showed that the premiere of the rebooted series starring original cast members Roseanne Barr and John Goodman was the most-watched show on U.S. television on Tuesday night with an audience of 18.2 million Americans.

The original “Roseanne” aired from 1988 to 1997. It featured a blue-collar family, the Conners, with overweight parents struggling to get by in the fictional town of Lanford, Illinois, and was praised for its realistic portrayal of working-class life.

The revival will deal with politics, topical issues such as opioid addiction and access to healthcare, and features Roseanne’s grown-up daughter Darlene, played again by Sara Gilbert, whose young son is gender fluid.

Barr, who says she voted for U.S. President Donald Trump, has said she wants the revival, in which she is a grandmother who voted for Trump in the 2016 elections, to portray a United States in which half the voters chose him.

Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. was among those congratulating Barr on the success of the premiere, which poked fun at both the left and the right.

“If you’re not too busy already maybe work in a late night show too ... seems there’s some demand for an alternate viewpoint,” Trump Jr. tweeted.

Barr, who live tweeted during the premiere, thanked fans on Wednesday.

“I am so grateful 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,” she tweeted.

Walt Disney-owned ABC said the two back-to-back opening episodes drew some 1.5 million viewers more than the finale of “Roseanne” in May 1997 - an era before Americans had wider viewing choices offered by streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon.

It was also the most watched comedy broadcast on U.S. television since an episode of “Big Bang Theory” in September 2014.

“Roseanne” is the latest hit show from the 1980s and 199Os to be revived. It follows NBC comedy “Will & Grace” and Showtime’s supernatural crime drama “Twin Peaks,” both of which returned to television in 2017.

“Will & Grace,” about a gay lawyer and his three friends, also proved a hit, although the September 2017 premiere attracted just 10.2 million American viewers.

ABC said the success of “Roseanne” boosted audiences for its other programs, delivering the network its strongest Tuesday since September 2013.

Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Tom Brown

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