Left, The connors on ABC; Murphy Brown & # 39; s restart on CBS.
Left, by Eric McCandless / ABC; Right, by John Paul Filo / CBS.
The Conner family has survived the death of their matriarch, but the question remains: can The conners thrive on qualifications without Roseanne Barr? I can not think of another television comedy so politically polarized that its success or failure seems like a referendum for its supporters.
Approximately 7.9 million viewers watched episode 2 of The conners on Tuesday. Bearing in mind that he was competing for live spectators with the first game of the World Series, and that there had been some predictions that the withdrawal ofDonald Trump Barr fans would put on the show, it's not a terrible result.
That is, however, a sharp drop of 25 percent of the 10.56 million people who Last week I saw the premiere of the show, curious to see how they would kill the character of Roseanne Conner. And it's a vertiginous fall of the 18.2 million viewers who watched the premiere of Roseanne in March, when it became the biggest TV hit of the season, and Trump happily took credit for the success of the program.
From the beginning, ABC wanted to mitigate the expectations of The Conners, apparently hoping for constant but not mercurial success of the Roseanne spin-off, in line with the ratings of Half, The wonderful family program of the working class that ended its nine seasons this year. Created by the ex Roseanne Y Murphy Brown writers Eileen Heisler Y DeAnn Heline, Half It had 5.8 million viewers approximately at the same time last fall. A spin-off pilot for Half, focused on Eden Sher The character, Sue Heck, is currently in the works.
Creatively, the first two episodes of The conners He rose Freed from the political baggage of trying to talk specifically about contemporary issues, the show can bring these rich and familiar characters back to life. The second episode brought back From johnny galecki David, sweetly stunned, is trying to figure out how to be a fully functioning parent and adult. "You were the daughter [Roseanne] always wanted," Sara Gilbert & # 39; s Darlene tells her in her frankly sincere manner.
One of the reasons why Roseanne so loved in its original course is that it rarely felt didactic; the series was about the human beings who had spent the day, and politics affected their lives in an oblique and subtle way. In 1992, Barr stood out remarkably Roseanne since Murphy Brown (who was under attack from the vice president Dan Quayle and the republican base to portray single motherhood) telling the Los Angeles Times He did not want to include political affiliations in the series: "We're not going to talk about who the Conners will vote for. I think people would turn us off very quickly."
The Conners did not represent the left nor the right, Barr said at the time. "They are somewhere in the middle of all this, not knowing what nothing else means, so, really, what they do is go to work and go home to be with their family and try to do things right." Tom Arnold, The then husband of Barr, added that Quayle probably did not even see Roseanne"It would be too painful, because it is reality," he said at the time.
In 2018, the political toxicity of the real world flooded Roseanne thanks in part to the determination of the program to openly appeal to Trump voters, and in part to Barr herself, who tweeted references to a discredited Pizzagate theory, published on George Soros, and compared Valerie Jarrett to an ape, which triggers ABC's decision to start Barr from the restart and start over with The Conners.
The political environment of 2018 has also abolished the relaunch of Murphy Brown this autumn. Its premiere attracted 7.4 million viewers, and its fourth episode last week fell well below 7 million. Restarts are proliferating on television because they are based on solid brands and nostalgia. In the case of Roseanne Y Murphy Brown, The shows take us back to a time when television unified us. During Murphy BrownThe original race, both the right wing and the left, were installed in front of the television to see Murphy discuss with corrupt politicians and creators. Diane English He said that the best Republicans lined up to make appearances. But in 2018, it's hard to imagine anyone not sharing the views of Murphy's left, even with the inclusion of a conservative character: Murphy's son, Avery, who works for Fox's wolf-like network. and travel. Around Trump's America listening to alternative opinions.
The hope with the reappearance of Murphy in 2018 was that the character would be an authoritative voice that could go through all the sound and fury of political experts, disinformation and appeal to both parties. But as the classifications of both series suggest, popular entertainment can no longer mobilize what we used to think like the American public. People have predicted the death of monoculture for years, noting the large number of options that fractured and dispersed our attention. But the real death blow can come from our polarized politics, which leaves us with cultural blocks that barely overlap. The mega ratings have faded along with civility, bipartisanship and shared values, and it may be too much to expect a television comedy like Murphy Brown or Roseanne to keep America united.