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March 29 2018

Roseanne Makes the Ratings Great Again

by Charlotte Hays

You've probably been reading about how the revival of Roseanne, the legendary blue collar sitcom (now featuring a Trump-supporting mother) blew away expectations Tuesday night, drawing an audience in excess of 18 million.

Deadline Hollywood looked further into the numbers:

Not surprisingly, the top TV markets where Roseanne delivered its highest ratings were in states handily carried by Trump in the election. No. 1 was Tulsa in Oklahoma, which Trump won with 65.3% of the vote. It was followed by Cincinnati, Ohio and Kansas City, Missouri. The only marquee city from a blue state in the Top 10 was Chicago at No. 5 — the area where the series is set.

. . .

The top market of the country, New York, was not in the Top 20; No.2 Los Angeles was not in the Top 30. And yet, Roseanne delivered the highest demo rating for any comedy telecast in 3 1/2 years, since the fall 2014 season premiere of TV’s biggest comedy series of the past five years, The Big Bang Theory.

One thing this might tell us is that there is a huge number of people out there who are hungry for entertainment that doesn't insult their values and portray them as dopes. John Podhoretz says something similar:

The world between the coasts has just sent a message to the major domos of our popular culture. The message is: We’re conscious enough of our differences to shut you down when you set yourselves against us (the Oscars) but we are ready to provide enthusiastic support for your efforts if you treat us with respect.

As Podhoretz points out, the series benefited from good writing in the first episodes and it also did something the rest of Hollywood would find well nigh impossible: it got the Connor family right. Podhoretz writes:

Perhaps more important, her appearance signaled that the new “Roseanne” was going to be true to the spirit of the old. The original show was properly hailed as a detailed depiction of the lives of the American working class — and if any fictional characters of the past 30 years were going to vote for Trump, it was going to be the Conners.

Indeed, it was precisely people like Dan and Roseanne Conner whose votes for Trump made the difference in the election (although the Conners live in Illinois, which voted for Hillary).

Another way in which the new “Roseanne” gets it right was revealed in the second episode that aired Tuesday night. They have to deal with the fact that their 9-year-old grandson seems to have a taste for cross-dressing. And although Dan arms him with a penknife so he can defend himself, he does so only because he fears for the boy’s safety, not because he is sickened by the kid’s behavior.

As Henry Olsen has written, “these voters are not motivated by social issues. They are, as the conservative Canadian political analyst Patrick Muttart says, ‘morally moderate’ . . . Donald Trump’s lack of a firm grounding in traditional Republican social policy was, for these voters, a plus.” (This might help explain Roseanne Barr’s shriek of horror at Jimmy Kimmel that his effort to get Trump might cause a Pence presidency.)

The world between the coasts has just sent a message to the major domos of our popular culture. The message is: We’re conscious enough of our differences to shut you down when you set yourselves against us (the Oscars) but we are ready to provide enthusiastic support for your efforts if you treat us with respect.

How will Hollywood respond?

I hate to be cynical but here's my guess: not very much.

Hollywood is very vain about its self-appointed role as moral arbiter for us lesser folk, and, while the money drive is strong, the vanity-moral arbiter drive may be stronger.

Ms. Barr, it should be noted, did have one yuge East Coast fan.

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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