ABC’s Roseanne returned to the television airwaves on Tuesday night and drew in more than 18 million viewers, marking TV’s largest comedy premiere in years.
The two-episode opening reprisal of the legendary 90s sitcom averaged an incredible 18.1 million viewers, and registered a 5.1 in the key demographic. “The first number alone is easily enough to make Roseanne the highest-rated regularly-scheduled scripted show of the last few seasons, as well as the highest-rated sitcom in recent memory,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.
According to THR:
That’s an incredibly strong start for the sitcom, thus far only committed to nine episodes. The easiest comparison is another revival, NBC’s Will & Grace. The other reboot, one that helped jumpstart Roseanne and the current trend, premiered with a 3.0 rating in the key demo and just over 10 million viewers at the start of the season.
ABC made a pretty bold move by having Roseanne go it alone at 8 p.m., without any lead-in. The hour has belonged to sitcoms The Middle and Fresh Off the Boat for the season up until now. Roseanne’s brief run picks up next Tuesday, airing single episodes at 8 p.m. for another seven weeks.
Reboots have been a big part of the TV narrative the last year, particularly at the broadcast networks. Will & Grace and Roseanne will be followed by Murphy Brown on CBS during the 2018-19 season, and rumblings of others (The Office, Mad About You) continue. Like Will & Grace, itself renewed through a third season of the new run, Roseanne’s comeback was inspired by the current political climate. But unlike Will & Grace, or any other scripted offering on U.S. TV at the moment, Roseanne presents a more varied take on Donald Trump’s America.
Roseanne Barr and John Goodman appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live! last week, and demanded that the politically-outspoken host “zip that fucking lip” when it comes to rooting for President Trump to fail:
With anti-Trump sentiment so pervasive amongst cable news, TV dramas, and other sitcoms, Roseanne’s reboot appears to have come at a time when the viewing audience is desperate for real change.
The numbers from opening night appear to back that up.
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter @themightygwinn