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Shows liberal writers on their struggle Lets not be mouthpieces

Issued: 2018-03-28

Whose idea was it to make Roseanne Conner a Trump supporter? Was there always a plan to have her grandson dress in non-traditional attire? In light of Tuesday’s debut of Roseanne, we asked co-executive producer Bruce Rasmussen (who previously wrote for the show during its run from 1988 to 1997) to explain how he and the other writers went about crafting the episode for the comedy’s much-anticipated return to primetime.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: The episode started with a joke about Roseanne thinking Dan was dead. Did you feel like you immediately need to address the fact that John Goodman’s character was killed off at the end of season 9? BRUCE RASMUSSEN: Yeah. We wanted to get it out of the way and it was impossible to do it halfway, so we just wanted to make a joke of it, since it was such a big deal after the original 9. Roseanne was on board doing that as well. It’s like, okay, we are explaining how he’s back and we’re going to move past that pretty quick.

Did you always know that would reference Roseanne’s book? We wanted to give a nod to some of what happened in season 9, the stuff that didn’t really go off the rails, in our opinion. She’s always been a writer in the series, so we at least wanted to give another nod to how she did write the book. We thought it would be fun to have him give her crap for killing him off.

How did it develop that Roseanne was a Trump supporter? When one of my agents called me to bring up me going back on the show, the way he pitched it was “Roseanne in the time of Trump.” Originally I thought, like everybody else, that she would not be a supporter of Trump. But the moment we got in the writers’ room with Roseanne, she really wanted to be a supporter of Trump, not because she is one herself, but there are a lot of people in the Midwest who voted for him. We had debates and discussions. [Writer] Dave Kaplan and I were two of the people who had least understood that there are people who voted for him who aren’t misogynists or racists and who felt betrayed by other administrations. They really believed Trump was going to do something for them. It made sense when we really talked about it.

Are you saying a majority of the other writers didn’t agree? Most writers, including me, are more liberal than we are conservative for sure. I’m no fan of Trump at all. Some people were new to the show. We had to keep reminding people that this is not how we feel. It’s how the Conners as real people would react to what they perceive as somebody who might help them out. We are all pretty liberal people so you have to step back and say, let’s not be mouthpieces for what we believe. Let’s deal with who these characters are as people, whether we agree with who she voted for or not.

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