In my morning reading, I kept noticing stories comparing the wildly popular Rosanne reboot to the classic 70's sitcom All in the Family:
All in the Left’s Family: Roseanne Barr and Archie Bunker
Is ‘Roseanne’ the conservatives’ ‘All in the Family’?
Is 'Roseanne' The New 'All In The Family'?
After ‘Roseanne,’ where’s Archie Bunker’s grandson?
However the media frames the discussion, I believe part of the reason for Roseanne's popularity today is that Roseanne was an original show back in its day, and now the original cast is returning to a barren TV landscape. Network Content now is mostly formulaic, and let me use the evil ESPN as my example.
Back in the heydey of ESPN, you could name everyone on ESPN, Chris Berman, Stuart Scott, Dan Patrick, Keith Olbermann, Rick Eisen, etc. They were all household names. As ESPN grew and grew, the legends fell by the wayside and were replaced by guys. Interchangable parts as the ESPN brand was stronger than its personalities. As every talent left ESPN, they lamented the corporate policies of the Mothership (except Scott, of course). Now the only ESPN personalities that stand out are horrible personalities. Mike Greenberg? Terrible. Stephen A. Smith? Ugh. Max Kellerman? Jamele Hill? Don't get me started. (At least in Smith's defense, he is memorable. He is a force of nature. My problem is, I don't always like what he's selling, and he's often selling the same thing.)
My point is, who's the next generation of great ESPN broadcasters? Which circles us back to the Roseanne Reboot. On ABC, ESPN's sister network, name 2 stars on any of their shows on the air right now. Okay, you just named actors from Modern Family, which is in its NINTH season, or you just named actors from The Middle, which is in its NINTH (and final) season. There is no buzz for new shows on ABC, unless it's a new season of the Bachelor or a new celebrity hosted game show.
And ABC's not alone, I just read about original cast reboots of The Office and the West Wing on NBC and Last Man Standing and Malcolm in the Middle on Fox. People simply fall in love with characters played by certain people. CBS is trying to dust off Magnum PI and Cagney and Lacey without the original characters. Look for those bad ideas to fail, because CBS is just trying to cash in on name recognition. I believe the success of Rosanne is simply because people want to know how the Conners are doing.
I'm going to use an extreme example here since All in the Family is in the public discourse. I firmly believe that if you created an 8 episode All in the Family reboot, bring back Norman Lear, he's still working at 95, God bless 'em. Bring back Meathead and Gloria, Rob Reiner's character came back from the commune and re-married Sally Struthers' Gloria, both of those actors are still working. Work in Danielle Brisebois from Archie Bunker's Place, she just won an Acedemy Award, like, 3 years ago (for song), and then sprinkle in the next generation (or 2) of Bunkers, and you'd have a reboot that people would watch. Now Rob Reiner would never do it, but that reboot would be an instant ratings winner.
You could break into the Smithsonian and pull the chairs out and put them in Michael Stivic's Man Cave. Rob Reiner arguing with an empty chair would probably get better ratings than half the shows on network TV today.
I'm not the biggest fan of Roseanne Barr, and I, personally, would rather watch new episodes of Rick and Morty than new episodes of Rosanne, but the best analogy I've heard regarding Rosanne's success came from my BOS partner Ted Koly in episode #82. "It's like they put the show in a time capsule and opened it up in 2018. Rosanne didn't change, America changed." -TK