‘Roseanne’ Reboot Rocks with 18 Million Viewers: TV’s Biggest Comedy Premiere in Years

Roseanne Barr, Laurie Metcalf in ABC's rebooted sitcom Roseanne (ABC, 2018)

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



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