Whether you were excited or trepidatious about the news that the reboot would be Trump-centric, you can temper your expectations somewhat. The Roseanne reboot will have a Hillary Clinton jab in the pilot, but according to the stars themselves, it's far from the political commentary that many have been expecting. The returning cast spoke with The Hollywood Reporter for a piece in advance of the show's March 27 premiere, and they put to rest some of the most tenacious rumors.
Yes, the series is anchored in the decision of its titular character to vote for Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election. Roseanne Barr shares more than just a name with the character she portrays on the sitcom, and this was one area where it was important to the 65-year-old to see crossover. The outspoken comedian has always been vocal about her support for Trump, as reported by IndieWire, so it wouldn't have been totally accurate to write the character without that element. In fact, Barr told THR that she never even considered writing the character any other way:
"I wanted to do it this way. It's the conversation everybody is having. Families are not speaking to each other. People are still shocked and upset about it. It's the state of our country."
It's an important conversation, but in the rebooted series, as in real life, it won't be the entire conversation. Roseanne Conner does vote for Trump, just as Barr did, but the series is not actually about the controversial world leader.
In the words of Sara Gilbert, who's now the show's executive producer in addition to one of its stars, "People think this show is more political than it is. It's more about how a family deals with a disagreement like that." As in real life, the matriarch's vote is a controversial one, and it presents the perfect catalyzing event to justify the show's return to the airwaves.
Examining what it looks like when people who love each other disagree is at the heart of many show's great storylines, and hopefully this one will be no different. Especially because the vast disagreement about our country's leadership at the moment will be reflected not only on the show itself, but also in its writers room.
Show writers Bruce Helford and Whitney Cummings shared with THR that the reboot's staff encompassed a wide swath of political opinions. They claim that they strove to foster a writing room that was by no means liberal — which, it should be stated, is a perspective that Barr doesn't necessarily agree with. "It wasn't?" she quipped to THR, before continuing:
"I thought everybody was pretty liberal, so I was keepin' an eye on it, making sure that it was evenhanded. But the day we went to shoot [the pilot], I got with the writers, and I'm like, 'You guys have to have a Hillary slam.' 'Cause they were all Trump slams."
The comedian insisted that she just wanted to see things leveled out, and presented fairly. "I wanted to represent the country and how divided we are," she told THR. And by the sound of it, she got her wish. Although the cast and its writers claimed that no politicians are mentioned by name, the implications are there. Clinton is apparently referenced via the term "pantsuit," with a line that Barr called "a great Hillary slam."
And whether the promise of that jab makes you excited or nervous to watch Roseanne, the cast and crew are suggesting that the important thing is to hear them out. The country is incredibly divided right now, so it's crucial that a perspective like Barr's be included. Representation on television is important, as is portraying characters with empathy, and exposing oneself to unfamiliar viewpoints. And to get the chance to practice all three in the form of one nostalgic TV show is an opportunity too good to pass up.