Sitcom stalwarts Full House and Will & Grace have recently enjoyed television revivals, but their modern reboots didn't receive nearly the public attention that this spring's return of Roseanne has. Thank our current culture wars, fueled by the populist rise and election of Donald Trump.
The sitcom's titular star, Roseanne Barr, voted for the president, and her character is a Trump supporter as well. Faced with that unusual-for-Hollywood political identity, television and cultural critics got busy deliberating over whether watchers could or should set aside deeply polarizing political beliefs and just enjoy the show.The reboot initially leans on this rift, presenting Roseanne's sister Jackie (Laurie Metcalf) as a hardcore Hillary Clinton–supporting feminist (though she choked at the ballot box and actually voted for Jill Stein). The series begins with the pair reconnecting after avoiding each other post-election.
The two bicker as they always have, yet the family has seen seismic shifts since the program's first run ended in '97. Roseanne's kids are now adults, two with children of their own, and it's this budding generation that reflects America's emergent culture. D.J.'s daughter is biracial (his wife is deployed in the military overseas); Darlene's son flirts with cross-dressing and gender ambiguity.
But the show maintains its messy sense of family and home. Everybody argues with everybody else, but unlike on social media, they don't have the option of "blocking," "muting," or otherwise retreating to an ideological bubble. Like most of us, they live, and live through, their differences, an accomplishment the show's more ideological critics don't seem to give people much credit for.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Roseanne".