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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 September 2018

'Roseanne' returns and, surprise, it turns out she voted for Trump

Roseanne and brood return to tackle today’s social issues and prove they haven’t missed a beat after 20 years off the air

A scene from the latest episode of Roseanne. Courtesy of ABC
A scene from the latest episode of Roseanne. Courtesy of ABC

When Roseanne Barr finds something funny, she cackles like a wicked witch – and she’s certainly getting the last grating laugh today on all the politically correct and left-leaning souls across America as her classic sitcom reboots with a bald-faced pro-Trump spin after 21 years off the air.

The working-class saga of the Conners family – when it returns this Sunday on OSN for what is technically its 10th season after a nine-year run on ABC that ended in 1997 – still crackles with a spit-in-your-eye attitude and truly the fiercest domestic goddess yet to lord over a television comedy.

“I’ve always attempted to portray a realistic portrait of the American people and working-class people,” Barr says. “In fact, it was working-class people who elected Trump, so I felt that yeah, that was very real, and something that needed to be discussed and especially about polarisation in the family, and people actually hating other people for the way they voted.”

When American talk-show host Jimmy Kimmel recently pressed the 65-year-old firebrand about how deeply she supports Trump in real life, compared to her sitcom persona, she told him to zip his lip: “A lot of us, no matter who we voted for, don’t want to see our president fail.”

Politics aside, it appears Barr has another winner on her hands, with viewers who still find the old Conners sofa comfy and inviting. Early reviews are highly favourable, with an 82 per cent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, from critics who marvel at the show’s ability to touch on so many of America’s social problems in 30 minutes.

“It’s really, really important to watch the revived Roseanne,” writes John Doyle of Canada’s Globe and Mail. “The nine-episode reboot is not some phoney, retro exercise. It’s a strange, vital and brazen thing to behold. And it aims to make the viewer uncomfortable.”

The entire original cast is back playing the scrappy Illinois family who lob caustic one-liners at one another as they juggle bills, jobs and try to make ends meet.

It’s also a time of miracles, indeed, as the reboot has also found a way to tap dance around the 1997 series-finale death of Dan, Roseanne’s beefy husband played by John Goodman

. Without spoiling the sleight-of-plot magic in the sitcom’s opening scene, Goodman, 65, says he’s thrilled to again be brewing his gruff-but-loving chemistry with his co-star Barr. “I didn’t really care [how they brought me back],” he says. “I thought it was a clever way to do it and get it out of the way.”

His returning co-stars include: Sara Gilbert (The Talk) as lippy daughter Darlene, Laurie Metcalf (The Big Bang Theory) as Roseanne’s neurotic sister Jackie, Michael Fishman (Seinfeld) as son D J, and Lecy Goranson (The Extra Man) as daughter Becky. Sarah Chalke (How I Met Your Mother), who played Becky in later seasons, is back in another surprise role.

Gilbert, along with Barr, Tom Werner, Bruce Helford and comic Whitney Cummings – says she loves the notion that while her TV family may be politically split, they’re still on speaking terms.

“It was a great opportunity to have a family divided by politics but still full of a lot of love,” she says. “The working class has been underrepresented in politics and on television, and this just felt like a wonderful time and opportunity to give a voice to some people in this country.”

Roseanne Barr, left, and John Goodman appear in a scene from the reboot of Roseanne. Adam Rose / ABC via AP
Roseanne Barr, left, and John Goodman appear in a scene from the reboot of Roseanne. Adam Rose / ABC via AP

For her part, Barr, who was herself a presidential candidate in 2016 for the fringe Peace and Freedom Party in the US, dearly wants to remind viewers that there’s more to Roseanne than politics. “My new show is not about Trump. It’s about a Midwestern family,” she tweeted last June when news of the reboot first broke.

Much has changed in two decades for the fictional Conners. Roseanne (who voted for Trump) and her sister Jackie (who voted for Clinton) haven’t spoken since the election – and forge a fragile truce.

Darlene now has two kids of her own, a surly teenage daughter and a nine-year-old boy, while D J also has a daughter. Darlene has her hands full caring for her ageing parents in an economy where the chasm between the haves and the have-nots widens daily.

In the originals’ ninth season, the Conners won the lottery, only to face all the hassles big money brings. Barr says she always wanted another season for the family to re-embrace their working-class roots.

“I always wanted to have a 10th year so that I could do exactly what I did in these nine, which was to finish and complete the story of this family.”

Roseanne will be broadcast at 9.30pm on Sunday on OSN Series Comedy HD

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