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The Return of Roseanne

Middle America strikes again. The forgotten "silent majority", left to languish between the populous coasts and largely ignored by advertisers until only very recently, has propelled "Roseanne", a 90's reboot, to the top of the charts. The blue-collar, middle-American family features original cast members and edgy content designed, in the words of star Roseanne Barr, to "get America talking again". The first episodes were immensely popular in conservative-leaning places like Kansas City, Cincinnati, and Indianapolis, and if the first few Trump-themed episodes (Ms. Barr and John Goodman are vocal supporters of the president) are any indication, the show might be around for a while.

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Indeed, back-to-back episodes garnered 18.5 million viewers, the biggest prime time audience for ABC since the last Bush Administration as well as the second most-watched entertainment program of this television season. This is a very good start for a show that has made only 9 episodes so far; but the fact that it had a strong showing in the ratings among viewers under 50 as well as older viewers suggests that it will probably be renewed, even if some of the initial excitement wears off. Advertisers do like lots of viewers and these are increasingly hard to come by.

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And in light of NBC's successful original-cast reboot of Will and Grace, it does appear that TV viewers have an appetite for old shows with original members that speak to modern issues. Perhaps it is true, as some have said, that a good number of Americans (about half?) want entertainment content that isn't dripping with "progressive" ideology like so much of the content produced by "Hollywood". Research confirms a persistent and growing "progressive" bias in both entertainment and the media, and perhaps a large swath of consumers hungers for something different. Time will tell.

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But let's get back to us liking what we know. Indeed there are quite a few very old bands that still enjoy success on a massive scale even as younger musicians struggle to piece together a living from Internet streaming royalties. And all of this probably shouldn't be very surprising in light of all of the movie reboots and franchises that continue to enjoy success at the expense of new concepts and original screenplays. We Americans, and perhaps all humans, do tend to prefer the safe haven of the familiar.


Discussion: Do you think the show will be successful over several years? Why or why not? What do you think about my assertions of "progressive" bias in entertainment content? 

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