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‘Roseanne’ ratings stay strong after its premiere is the highest-rated sitcom episode in years

ABC’s “Roseanne” returned to television after more than two decades on March 27. The reboot’s first episode didn’t shy away from politics. (Video: Elyse Samuels/The Washington Post)

This post has been updated. 

The rebooted “Roseanne” maintained a massive audience in its second week, dipping to 15.2 million viewers but keeping its spot as the top program of Tuesday night. The episode earned a 3.9 rating.

The series returned to ABC last week after more than two decades and attracted 18.4 million viewers on its first night — or a whopping 25 million viewers if you include “time-shifted” viewing over the following three days, according to new totals shared by the Hollywood Reporter on Monday. The network reported that the two-episode premiere produced ABC’s best results for an hour-long telecast since the fall of 2006.

On Friday, the series was renewed for another season, its 11th overall.

“We’re thrilled that America has welcomed the Conner family back into their homes,” ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey said in a statement. “The show is as fresh and relevant today as it was when it left the air 21 years ago. We can’t wait to see what the ‘Roseanne’ team has in store for next year.”

Among adults ages 18 to 49, its first-night rating of 5.1 was the highest-rated sitcom episode that broadcast television has seen since CBS ratings giant “The Big Bang Theory” scored a 5.5 with its eighth-season opener in September 2014. With time-shifting, the premiere’s rating was updated to 7.3.

The premiere also topped the 16.6 million viewers recorded for the show’s original finale.

Roseanne Barr thanked fans via Twitter for the incredible rating: “You are all wonderful-here is to making America laugh & talk again! LOVE U”

If that sounds a little like the president’s “Make America Great Again” slogan, that could be on purpose. Much of the chatter leading up to the “Roseanne” premiere surrounded the lead actress’s politics; Barr is a known supporter of President Trump, as is her character in the reboot. The New York Times reported Wednesday that Trump, who often fixates on TV ratings, had called Barr to personally congratulate her.

Critics and viewers praised the show for honestly portraying a working-class family during its original run, and Barr said during the Television Critics Association’s media tour that she believes “it was working-class people who elected Trump.” (This isn’t necessarily true.)

The reboot directly addresses the ideological divide that many American families face. Roseanne (Barr) and her liberal sister, Jackie (Laurie Metcalf), have not spoken to each other since election night. The former’s daughter Darlene (Sara Gilbert) tries to help her mother and aunt, who sports a pink knitted hat and a “Nasty Woman” T-shirt, make amends by planning a family dinner.

Roseanne proceeds to tell her sister that Trump “talked about jobs, Jackie, he said to shake things up. I know this may come as a shock to you, but we almost lost our house because of the way things are going.”

Jackie retorts: “Have you looked at the news? Because now things are worse,” to which Roseanne replies, “Not on the real news.”

Rebooted Roseanne is a proud ‘deplorable.’ Can she be the Trump era’s Archie Bunker?

Conservatives on Twitter rallied behind the reboot, during the premiere and the morning after.

Dan Scavino Jr., the White House’s social media director, pointed out that #Roseanne was trending Tuesday night on Twitter and congratulated the cast. Fox News’s Sean Hannity wrote that “Proud Deplorable” Barr exceeded expectations, while British journalist Piers Morgan noted that her support for the president did not prevent the premiere from performing well.

Morgan tweeted, “A message there, methinks, for all the screaming Trump-hating liberals: not everyone in America thinks like you …”

Right-wing political commentator Matt Drudge referred to the “Roseanne” ratings as a “blowout,” which Donald Trump Jr. quote-tweeted with “Congrats @therealroseanne. If you’re not too busy already maybe work in a late night show too … seems there’s some demand for an alternate viewpoint.” Drudge’s website, Drudge Report, also tweeted a story headlined, “Can Roseanne Save America?”

Conservative radio host Ben Shapiro took a different stance, claiming that the show does not accurately depict Trump voters. He tweeted that presumed liberal-leaning critics like the reboot because it “recasts Trump voters as social Leftists who just disagree about economics” and therefore represents “a Hollywood fantasy of what Trump voters are: people who agree with Hollywood elites on values, but just disagree on economics because they’re old white factory workers.”

The “Roseanne” premiere over-performed in major cities such as New York, but it also dominated in Middle America. Tulsa, Cincinnati, Kansas City and Pittsburgh, all in Trump-voting states, were its highest-rated markets, according to the Hollywood Reporter, though Greensboro, N.C. (also in a Trump state), came in as the lowest, followed by San Francisco, Jacksonville and Miami.

In reference to the “Roseanne” reboot, Dungey, the ABC Entertainment president, said during the Banff World Media Festival last summer that the network aims to produce shows that appeal to broad audiences. Barr openly spoke about her own life when the show originally aired, Dungey said, and “it’s a perfect time to have that voice back to talk about the realities now.”

“What the election revealed was that there’s parts of our country that didn’t feel heard, that they didn’t have a voice,” Dungey added, according to the Hollywood Reporter. “When you look at how the polling data went in the run-up to the election, it was kind of a big surprise to many people that the election turned out as it did.”

Read more:

TV Roseanne is a Trump supporter. Real-life Roseanne Barr is already a pro-Trump Internet mainstay.

From ‘Roseanne’ to ‘Gilmore Girls,’ these 5 TV reboots ask us to disregard their weird finales

Roseanne Barr reinforces myth that working-class voters elected Trump