“‘Black Panther’ Proves, Yet Again, That Diversity Sells in Hollywood,” ran a February headline in Forbes. And how: The film has grossed more than $1.2 billion and is now the highest-grossing superhero movie of all time at the domestic box office. And here’s another story about Hollywood successfully reaching out to an underserved audience: “Roseanne Revival Premieres to Massive Ratings,” declared Entertainment Weekly last week.
There haven’t been a lot of movies about black superheroes, and these days there aren’t a lot of sitcoms aimed at Trumpland either. The monster 18.2 million audience that turned out for the reboot of “Roseanne” — whose ratings topped that of any sitcom on any network in almost four years and even surpassed those of the “60 Minutes” Stormy Daniels interview in the 18-49 demographic around which the TV business is built — revealed a ravenous hunger for the types of characters network TV has simply given up on supplying.
In the new episodes, Roseanne Conner is seen sarcastically asking her left-wing sister, “Would you like to take a knee?” when she says a pre-meal prayer, expressing gratitude for the safe return of her military son from service in Syria, and then says, “Most of all Lord, thank you, for making America great again.” You won’t hear this kind of talk on “This Is Us.”
If catering to minorities can be an excellent business decision, Hollywood would be wise to take note of the largest minority it’s currently ignoring: Trump voters, who number 63 million. “Roseanne” star Roseanne Barr has been vocal about going after them, and not in a condescending way since she is one of them and speaks fluent Trumpish. She told Jimmy Kimmel last week, “Zip that f—ing lip” about Trump. This week she told “Good Morning America,” “The idea that people can agree to disagree is kind of missing from everything.
“I think that’s a conflict resolution . . . I really hope [the show] opens up civil conversation between people instead of just mud-slinging. I really do because I think we need to be more civilized in that.”
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