Roseanne is back: Does her comedy trump politics?

April 05, 2018, 5:00 PM GMT+0

Only 18% of viewers said they watched the reboot's premiere because the show supports President Trump

Roseanne Barr’s successful return to television last week was read by some as a statement about President Trump – but the latest Economist/YouGov Poll suggests that the ratings for the reboot of her comedy series had at least as much to do with comedy as it did with politics.

Americans who watched Roseanne’s premiere are as likely to be Democrats as Republicans, almost as likely to disapprove as to approve of the way Donald Trump is handling his job as President, and, for the most part, be fans of the original series.

While the Roseanne audience divides on their opinion of the Trump Presidency, viewers were far more approving of the President than the public overall. In this week’s poll, just 38% of all adults approve of the way Donald Trump is handling his job as President, while 52% disapprove.

Rural residents were among the least likely to watch the premiere. And only 17% of adults under the age of 30 said they watched it. One in four viewers had voted for Hillary Clinton last fall; 30% had voted for President Trump. The remainder didn’t vote.

But more importantly, viewers weren’t all that willing to cite politics as a reason they watched the show. They watched – mostly – because they always did, and because they believed Roseanne was funny. Only 18% of viewers said they watched because the show supported the President. And just over a third of Republicans and Trump voters said the same.

In all groups, the show’s humor and past viewership seems to have been more important than the political viewpoint of its star in driving people to watch the show’s premiere. More than half of those who regularly watched the first Roseanne series tuned in to the reboot.

As for Roseanne herself, she gets a mixed rating that is in part determined by politics. Just about as many adults have an unfavorable impression as a favorable impression of her. Democrats don’t like her, while Republicans do. But those who watched the first new episode definitely have a positive view of her, suggesting they’ll be back for more.

Roseanne has gone two thirds of the way towards proving Americans wrong on her ability to last: in 1996, a PSRA/Newsweek Poll found two in three Americans said they were tired of hearing about Roseanne – and in a 1998 Peter D. Hart Research poll, only a third of the public believed Roseanne Barr would be remembered in 30 years. Twice that number thought she’d be mostly forgotten. That – so far, at least – hasn’t happened. Roseanne is remembered – and still being talked about!

Read more toplines and tables results here

Photo: Getty