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More than 18 million people watched the reboot of 1990s sitcom Roseanne on Tuesday

The hour-long debut was watched by 10% more viewers than the 1997 finale of the show.

TV-Roseanne Reboot A screenshot of the second episode of the rebooted Roseanne. Source: Adam Rose via ABC/AP

US VIEWERS SEEM to have been eager to see ABC’s reboot of Roseanne, as an estimated 18.4 million tuned into its debut this week.

The updated sitcom starring Roseanne Barr returned on Tuesday, more than two decades after the original ended its hit run. The hour-long debut episode was watched by 10% more viewers than saw the May 1997 finale of ABC’s original Roseanne.

Given the explosion of alternate platforms and series since then and compared to other successful sitcom reboots, that figure is significant.

NBC’s Will & Grace, for example, returned this season with its original 1998-2006 cast to a debut audience of 10.1 million viewers and was quickly renewed for a second and then a third season.

For its first year, NBC’s show is averaging 5.7 million people watching episodes on the day they air. But with the time-shifting viewership that networks are focusing on, its audience averages 9 million per episode over a seven-day period.

Another promising sign for Roseanne was the estimated audience growth from the first half-hour (18 million) to the second (18.9 million), a sign that viewers liked what they saw. Future episodes are a half-hour, airing on Tuesdays in the US.

The reboot

Barr is back as the matriarch of the Conner family, with other returning castmates including John Goodman, Laurie Metcalf, Sara Gilbert, Michael Fishman and Lecy Goranson.

The family is grappling with new sets of personal issues and political realities – Roseanne embraces US president Donald Trump, her sister Jackie (Metcalf) is a staunch opponent, and the two are at odds.

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Barr says she thought it was important to show how the Conners deal with the same issues that many American families currently face.

“It shows people’s different opinions and how they resolve them,” Barr, who counts herself as a Trump supporter, said at the show’s New York premiere on Monday.

“I saw it happening in all the families I know, so I thought, ‘Well this is, you know, it’s good, hopefully, it will get people talking to each other.’”

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