The first couple of shows from the new Roseanne revival have been a ratings boon for ABC. Initial reports put the show at 18 million viewers and, according to The Hollywood Reporter, it’s already been renewed for a second season with an order for 13 episodes, up from this season’s nine. Whether those numbers have staying power or not remains to be seen. While millions tuned in like rubberneckers at a roadside crash to see what the new Roseanne might spew, some of those viewers may not be returning for the rest of the season or subsequent seasons — even if the show has mostly favorable reviews.
That’s because some are calling for a Roseanne boycott precisely because of lead actress and comedian Roseanne Barr’s outspoken support of Donald Trump and her wacky, misinformed, and sometimes conspiracy-laden tweets.
Which is why there also seems to be a big push to get Sara Gilbert out front on interview programs.
Gilbert is an executive producer on Roseanne, the chief architect of its revival, and is reprising her role as the youngest Conner daughter, Darlene. She has been letting everyone know that not only are staunch liberals at the helm — writers include Gilbert and comedians Whitney Cummings and Wanda Sykes — but the only member of the Conner clan who is a Trump supporter is Barr’s character.
Gilbert clarified that on Watch What Happens Live this week, answering a question from one of the show’s callers:
The Conners aren’t Trump supporters. Roseanne’s character is a Trump supporter — she’s the only one — and we never say his name, actually, in the show…the show is not about politics. It’s not about anybody’s position or a policy, it’s really about what happens to a family when there’s a political divide—which is something that, I think, the entire country can relate to and something we need to talk about. With our show, it’s never about ‘doing an issue’ or ‘doing politics.’ It’s, How do these things affect a family unit?
But Twitter users still didn’t seem convinced:
Apparently Sara Gilbert is promising that Trump's name will never be mentioned on Roseanne again.
Too bad she can't say the same about Roseanne.
— (((Timothy Thelen))) (@timmthelen) March 31, 2018
So, Roseanne's new show is all about making Trump voters feel better about themselves for voting for a misogynist, racist jerk who's only interested in (rich) white people and their interests. I get that Roseanne is really that stupid. What slays me is that Sara Gilbert is.
— Asha Hawkesworth (@ashahawkesworth) March 31, 2018
I'm a big fan of Laurie Metcalf, Sara Gilbert, and John Goodman. Having said that, I wouldn't watch Roseanne if it was the only thing on TV. I don't understand why those fine actors would even agree to participate. I will not support anybody who supports Trump. #BoycottRoseanne .
— Elizabeth Lee (@touraloura) March 27, 2018
sad to see Sara support any project with anyone that supports bigot trump and all he stands for
— Grad (@gradam1) March 31, 2018
There were also some liberal folks fully on board with Gilbert and her vision for the show:
Slow your roll Trump supporters. Let's not forget that the EPs are Whitney Cummings and Sarah Gilbert (who are also writers). And Wanda Sykes is writing too. This isnt a show about you! #Roseanne
— Deltron Polygraph (@CorduroyDP) March 28, 2018
Worth noting: Sara Gilbert is an exec producer. Wanda Sykes is a writer. One of the characters is gender fluid. DJ's daughter is African-American. Laurie Metcalf is a national treasure. And Roseanne's sort-of-pro-Trump politics are a very minor element in the show. Ep2 was funny. https://t.co/5IeM0kdP6h
— Bob Cesca (@bobcesca_go) March 28, 2018
For anyone who doesn’t know, Gilbert has turned into a bit of a TV mogul since Roseanne ended, working consistently on the small screen on shows such as 24, ER, and The Big Bang Theory before stepping behind the scenes to create the daytime roundtable talk show The Talk on CBS and then turning her attention to the Roseanne reboot.
She explained it to Stephen Colbert recently on the The Late Show:
Washington Post reporter Steven Zeitchik tweeted excerpts of his own interview with Gilbert:
“I would encourage people to watch the whole season. We’re telling the story of what’s going on politically through relationships, especially female relationships—but it’s not so much about the politics as it is about how the struggle of the working class is affecting families.”
— Steven Zeitchik (@ZeitchikWaPo) March 30, 2018
“You know how you think somebody believes one thing and supports a certain candidate and it turns out that can be nuanced? That’s what we’re doing. Also, are you not supposed to talk to each other? All of us should be working together and talking to people of different views.”
— Steven Zeitchik (@ZeitchikWaPo) March 30, 2018
Still, all of this controversy left some feeling admittedly confused…
Roseanne sucks on trans issues & voted Trump. Roseanne dealt honestly with racism, homophobia, taxes & abortion 25 years ago. Laurie Metcalf, John Goodman & Sarah Gilbert are great. Alicia Goranson is an all-time great underrated actor. I don’t know. I just don’t fucking know.
— Jared Warner (@CptOuterSpace) March 28, 2018
Tysan had a few sage words for anyone bothered by Barr’s Twitter antics, her character’s support of the President, or her real-life love for Trump:
I think they’re forgetting that people don’t have to watch the show at all… a million other shows out there I’ll be watching before this Trump love-in.
— Tysan Towney (@tysantowney) March 31, 2018