Roseanne Barr is letting her art imitate her life. The comic is starring in a revival of her historic '90s sitcom Roseanne about the working-class Conner family, and immediately in the season premiere (airing Tuesday, March 27, at 8 p.m. on ABC) it's revealed that Roseanne Conner and her husband Dan Conner (John Goodman) voted for Trump in the 2016 presidential election. She then gets into a fight with her sister Jackie (Laurie Metcalfe) when she finds out that she voted for Hillary Clinton. It's clear that the idea for that story came from Barr herself, who's credited as a writer on the series, as she is a proud and vocal Trump supporter on social media. And when asked about her decision to bring her personal politics into the beloved series at the Television Critics Association winter press tour Monday, Barr was unapologetic.
"In The Rosanne Show, I’ve always tried to have it be a true reflection of the society we live in," Barr tells the room of reporters. "I feel like half the people voted for Trump and half didn’t, so it’s just realistic."
And since the series always represented a working-class family at a time when they had never been represented in a real way in pop culture, Barr believes it makes sense that the Conners would be pro-Trump. "My show has 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 yeah. I thought that was very real and something that needed to be discussed and especially about polarization in the family and people actually hating other people for the way that they voted which I think is not American. So we wanted to bring it right down the middle. There was a lot of thought in it."
The fact that not all of the Conner family is pro-Trump leads to a family debate in the season premiere. "This is a time when our country is divided," says Sara Gilbert, who plays Roseanne's daughter Darlene in the original and revival. "We talk about [politics] in the context of a family. People feel like they can't disagree and still love and talk to each other. It's a great opportunity to have a family divided by politics but is still filled with love. What a great thing to bring into this country right now."
Some reporters, however, were concerned with how Roseanne Conner's political affiliation would make sense for her character. During the panel, Barr was reminded by a reporter of a now famous scene in which Roseanne lectures her son DJ (Michael Fishman) about racism. How can a character who notably stood against xenophobia forgive Trump for his biases against foreigners, the reporter asks. After attempting to deflect the question, Barr finally replies.
"Well, he says a lot of crazy shit," she says. "I don't really want to get into this. I'm not a Trump apologist. There are a lot of things he's said and done that I don't agree with, just like there are a lot of things Hillary Clinton has said and done that you don't agree with. Nobody is brainwashed into agreeing with 100 percent of what anybody says, let alone a politician or candidate."
The conversation then turned to other celebrities who could become politicians. When asked about whether she'd vote for Oprah Winfrey if she runs for president in 2020 as has been rumored, Barr admits that she does "love Oprah."
"Of course, I love Oprah like everybody else," Barr says. "But you know what? I think it was time for us as a country to shake things up and, you know, try something different. Actually, I think I’d be a better president than Oprah and Susan Sarandon, probably even President Trump. And I did run in 2012."
But despite all the heated political discussion, a few tidbits of information about Roseanne managed to slip through. The revival will reunite all the members of the Conner family, including both Beckys (Lecy Goranson, the original, and Sarah Chalke, who will be playing a new role) and Darlene's boyfriend David (Johnny Galecki, returning for one episode). The new season will also retcon Dan's death in the last season. "I didn't really care [how they explained the death away]," Goodman says. "I thought it was a clever way to do it, handle it, and get it out of the way."
There are some characters from the original series who won't be seen in the revival, however. "We do mention Jerry Garcia Conner in the first show and he's on a fishing boat in Alaska," Barr says. "And we haven't dealt with Andy, [Jackie's] son, yet either. But we had so many stories to tell over the arc of these nine episodes. We were hoping for another season [after this] to bring more clarity to those characters." Barr also reveals that this revival season is how she wanted the original series to end back when it first aired, but doesn't want the revival to be a one-and-done season.
As for why they're bringing Roseanne back now, Barr thinks that "it's fun to check back in with a family you know and knew so much about and enjoyed so much."
"It's just like old friends," she says. "I think we were friends to a lot of people and they did let us into their homes and maybe they missed us and they're happy to catch up with us again, I hope."
But as the panel was ending, Barr made sure to get in one last political comment. "I think it's the time to close ranks," she says. "And I would really like to see an end to 'hatriotism' in this country.'" No one seems to know what "hatriotism" is, but you can bet Roseanne will probably explain it to you in a future episode.