'Roseanne' Showrunner on Success of Revival: 'People Want to See This Dialogue'

Bruce Helford, the co-executive producer on the new revival season of Roseanne, is insisting that the politicized conversations in the show are what the American people want to see.

Helford sat down with The Hollywod Reporter to discuss the reboot's massive success. He credited their sky-high ratings with nostalgia, as well as their willingness to tackle issues that other shows won't. When asked what surprised him about the enormous reaction, he said: "The size of it."

"People want to see this dialogue," he went on. "They want to see a family they can relate to. They wanted to see the Conners again. And it was incredibly gratifying — beyond anything anyone expected — to have this many people watch. It's up to 25 million and we haven't even had the plus-seven [DVR returns] yet."

He went on to specify that it was the interaction between two sides that people were drawn to, not any bias. Helford insisted that, despite Barr's own controversial politics, which she espouses on Twitter, the show itself is aiming to strike a balance.

"I don't discuss [Barr's] politics, that's her private business. There's Roseanne Barr and then there's Roseanne Conner. There are some similarities and plenty of differences. I honestly think this really was about the show come back into people's lives. There is a nostalgia factor and the feeling of being accepted among the Conners," Helford said.

"There should be an understanding that there is a difference between people's personal politics and what you present onscreen," he added.

"We're hopefully presenting a wonderful, balanced show that doesn't have an agenda. But beyond that, anybody can dig into anybody's stuff and find stuff. But if her politics bothers them, then they shouldn't watch the show. That's OK. Nobody is making anybody watch the show. We consider ourselves guests in the public's home and as guests we know that people have the option to turn it off if they don't want to watch," Helford said.

However, for better or for worse, the Roseanne revival has become inseparable from the star and co-creator's politics, as she promotes conspiracy theories and mocks school shooting survivors online.


"The show is not representing her personal politics," Helford said. "The Conners were Bill Clinton voters back in the day. Those people have very heavily shifted toward Trump. We did our due diligence on what all that would be about. And the show, aside from the fact that Roseanne Barr and Roseanne Conner both happen to be Trump supporters, has been borne out to be pretty realistic, in terms of the demographics of that area [the Midwest]. But aside from that, there's a big difference between anyone's personal politics and what the show is about. They're not meant to be interrelated in any way."

Roseanne airs on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.