Roseanne exec asks viewers not to judge show on Barr’s support for Trump

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A top executive for TV’s revived Roseanne says he has been surprised at the high ratings of the comedy starring vocal Trump supporter Roseanne Barr.
 
And while the president has taken credit for the show’s numbers, co-showrunner Bruce Helford tells The Hollywood Reporter that it is always strange when politics and television entertainment try to mix.
 
“I remember back in the day on Family Ties (which had Helford on its writing team), President Reagan wanted to appear on the show. And [show creator] Gary David Goldberg, who was a staunch liberal Democrat, said, ‘No way,’ ” Helford recalled. 
 
“The network (NBC) was like, ‘Are you kidding us? It’s the President of the United States who wants to guest star!’ I remember Richard Nixon, before he became president, was on Laugh-In,” Helford continued. “It’s always weird when someone at that level weighs in on these kinds of things. In any case, everybody wants to be part of a winner, so everybody sort of jumps in.”
 
Roxane Gay weighs in on Roseanne
 
Amid Helford’s sharing about the show, author Roxane Gay wrote a scathing opinion piece for The New York Times in which she grudgingly admits she found the first two shows “competent” but that she will watch no more episodes of Roseanne, whose star, she writes, ” tweets conspiracy theories, rails against feminism and shares Islamophobic opinions.
 
“This fictional family, and the show’s very real creator, are further normalizing Trump and his warped, harmful political ideologies,” Gay writes of Barr’s support of the president. “There are times when we can consume problematic pop culture, but this is not one of those times.”
 
Though Barr’s politics have attracted attention, Helford asked viewers to give the show a chance. 
 
“My feeling is that people should just watch the show and judge it on its merits,” Helford said. “Watch the show without the accompanying background noise. Everybody, including Roseanne, wanted the show to be balanced. When we talk about wanting to open a dialogue in America, that’s something that the show does. We’re not trying to perform brain surgery or cure cancer. We all hoped that this would open a dialogue where people would start laughing at themselves a little bit, get a little less polarized and realize that this is a universal conversation. Lots of families find themselves divided on these issues.”
 
Helford said ABC congratulated the Roseanne team for its early success, but said he does not know if the comedienne’s politics had anything to do with it. The show aired its third episode on Tuesday and has already been renewed the show for a second season.