Since this is now the most talked-about pop culture phenomenon, there are several layers to discuss -- the show itself, the audience's reactions to the show, the pundits' commentary on the audience's reaction to the show, and on and on.
The show itself is a time warp back to good writing and performances, rather than what passes for comedy today -- which is built on random wackiness instead of humor, a self-aware rather than naturalistic tone, and driven by a series of buzzwords, references, and one-liners that do not require a particular place, cast, or narrative for them to be made, instead of humor arising from the how the distinctive characters interact with each other, their time, and their place, according to a plotline.
The political aspects of the show are no different from the original -- working-class populism based on the daily challenges of living below the top 10-20%, with the hot-button issues being mostly one-off distractions like the "very special episodes" of the 1980s and early '90s. They are not trotted out to score cheap rhetorical points against an enemy in a highly polarized debate, but presented as obstacles of contemporary society that everyone in the cast must work together to find a solution to.
When the high schoolers on Saved By the Bell encountered the problem of homelessness, no one ham-fistedly said, "Well, what do we expect with Republicans in the White House and trickle-down Reaganomics continuing to fail the working class?" The point would have been taken, but it would not have fit into the genre of a sit-com or drama.
Cycles of political tension and collective violence go in 50-year cycles, according to Peter Turchin's research, the last peak landing around 1970 and another expected to land around 2020. The valley between those peaks was the first half of the '90s, and that's when the non-partisan "very special episodes" were common, whether on sit-coms like Saved By the Bell and Roseanne, or dramas like My So-Called Life and the early seasons of Law & Order.
Political tension within sit-com writing and acting was a lot higher during the last peak, as seen on All In the Family. Presumably those tensions will re-emerge as we approach the upcoming peak. But so far in the Roseanne revival, the format of "characters playing out a national partisan political debate" was limited to Roseanne and Jackie airing their grievances over the 2016 election as a cathartic form of making up and moving on with their personal relationship.
I just don't see the target audience craving a partisan knife fight between cardboard cut-outs standing in for the Dumbocraps and the Rethuglicans.
The unexpectedly weak partisanship and the relative minimization of culture war issues stems from the show's working-class characters and setting. The culture war only matters to middle-class and elite people, who are well-off enough on a material level to have free time, money, and cognitive resources to worry about airy-fairy issues. People with more pressing material concerns are not interested in debates about trannies and bathrooms.
As Andrew Gelman and colleagues have shown, partisan polarization is minimal among poor people but wide as hell among the wealthy. The real culture war is between the elites who got rich through the oil industry vs. those who got rich through the media industry, not between construction workers in Texas vs. construction workers in California.
Contra Thomas Frank, the culture war is not the opiate of the masses, but of the chattering middle and upper classes.
And sure enough, the Roseanne revival's main audience is the Rust Belt, according to Nielsen ratings by media market, showing that the appeal is for people whose material prosperity traditionally came from certain kinds of economic activity -- not certain ideologies, or certain religious practices, or whatever else.
The show has not been welcomed in the South, southern Appalachia, Texas, or the Mountain West (landing with a thud in Roseanne's hometown of Salt Lake City). The only place outside the Rust Belt where it did well was Tulsa, OK, which is part of the Ozarks. While some of those regions, especially the South, have seen the disappearance of manufacturing and industrial jobs, they have also seen a deluge of post-industrial tech-bubble jobs, unlike the Great Lakes region.
The Sun Belt has also seen a flood of immigrants who will work for peanuts, allowing the middle class and elites to enjoy a higher standard of living than their counterparts in the Rust Belt. Need your yard landscaped, or your kitchen remodeled? Why hire an American when you can hire a cheaper immigrant? This decline in concern for their fellow Americans, especially the working class, is reflected in their "whatever" attitude toward the should-be all-American appeal of Roseanne.
MSNBC dug up the ratings by media market from the show's first season in the late '80s, and it was a hit all around the country -- Seattle, Albuquerque, Knoxville, Wilkes-Barre, etc., not just the Midwest. But that was before NAFTA and other globalist free trade deals hollowed out the manufacturing sector in those places, before the rise of the tech bubble economy, and before partisan and regional and cultural polarization had reached the high levels of today.
It's not surprising that the show's revival is not popular in places that have become over-run with liberal tech-bubble yuppie transplants. But it is striking how lukewarm or cold the reception has been in the Greater South.
It would be King of the Hill, not Roseanne, whose revival would do best in those places. Although it is a symptom rather than cause, the rise of cultural phenomena like King of the Hill that eclipsed those like Roseanne shows how the Republican party lost the Reagan Democrats of the Great Lakes, who would only return -- likely for just one trial election -- if they would speak to the concerns of the audience for Roseanne instead of the audience for King of the Hill.
The stark contrast between the two shows goes right over the heads of the clueless liberal elites, who lump everyone who is not a creative-class professional living on the coasts, into the same "basket of deplorables" -- whether that's a white working-class family outside of Chicago, or a conservative household outside of Dallas headed by a manager / salesman, since that manager works for the gas & energy sector rather than an informational sector.
Aside from Hank Hill being a manager rather than a worker, his personality and lifestyle could not be more different from Dan Conner's -- mild-mannered, long-suffering, deferential, puritanical, devout, gentle, well-behaved, and workaholic. He is the Protestant Work Ethic incarnate. Also naive, impressionable, and welcoming of immigrants -- characteristically Nordic and Lutheran.
Dan Conner is a Celt of no particular religion, yet who feels compelled to reinforce cultural norms more than Hank, who may be more personally repulsed but who keeps it to himself. As someone who it is not easy to walk all over, Dan is a more masculine character, which threatens not only the soft-handed coder who votes Democrat, but also the keep-your-head-down regional manager for Chili's who votes Republican. More temperamental, he fights and puts down his foot more often than Hank, but is also more playful, charming, and funny.
In a cultural landscape populated by polarized figures, it's welcome to see someone like Dan who is neither an effete liberal degenerate nor a spineless conservative wet blanket.
But it isn't just liberal elites who mindlessly conflate Dan Conner and Hank Hill. Conservative elites have been just as clueless, always expecting to win the votes of the Dan Conners of the Rust Belt, just because he isn't a homosexual owner of a Manhattan PR firm. He may not be -- but neither is he a manager for a Texas oil-related company, nor a pointless defense contractor in Virginia feeding off of the bloated federal budget.
These Dan Conner guys keep voting Democrat, who take them for granted. They gave Trump a shot, but will start shifting back to voting Democrat as that party re-aligns itself under the Bernie revolution, giving them Democrats they don't have to hold their nose for (like Connor Lamb).
When they took these guys for granted, they would only give them token benefits for having voted Democrat -- stage their ads in a small-town diner, give them Chris Matthews to present the evening news, and hire Bruce Springsteen to headline their fundraisers.
Now that these voters have temporarily defected to Trump, the Democrats must now actually deliver cold hard results that improve their standard of living -- and that means not obsessing over giving amnesty to cheap-labor immigrants who undercut Dan Conner's wages and drive him out of his neighborhood after millions of new residents in his town have bid up the price of housing.
A more interesting development will be Roseanne the character's reaction to the failure of the GOP as an entire party, and Trump individually, to deliver on the campaign themes that were supposed to alter the Reagan party into a working-class populist party. Roseanne the person has never been Republican, having sought the Green Party nomination for president and having voted for Obama. I don't see her character obsessing over the boogeymen for either Fox News or MSNBC and CNN -- Hillary, Comey, Mueller, etc., or for that matter, Trump himself.
Perhaps the most radical departure the show will take from the standard Trump voting crowd will be the de-personalization of the political world, and a focus strictly on the issues. Trump has not only created a personality cult around himself, he only sees things in personal rather than institutional terms -- prizing personal congeniality and loyalty, even if that person cuts completely against the president's stated agenda for re-shaping society's institutions (e.g., John Bolton as National Security Advisor).
Well, the Obama-to-Trump voters don't care about what kind of theatrical performance Trump puts on for his audience, and they have no loyalty to the man or the party in control of the White House. Their vote was a purely transactional, high-risk / high-reward gamble that they took on the candidate who promised to shake up the status quo on an instrumental level, not just rhetorically.
If that gamble does not pay off -- oh well, no big deal, it was a chance they had to take, and now onto Bernie and his people, who look like much more promising candidates for shaking things up and getting shit done for the populist agenda.
We already know how the Republican partisans will respond to the failures of the current administration -- keep complaining about the leaders, keep voting for them anyway, and keep parroting their talking points about corporate tax cuts and deregulation during a populist uprising.
What's up in the air is how the Obama-to-Trump voters are going to respond, especially the Independents rather than the diehard Democrats. Dems will go right back to voting for Dems. But Independents could tune out altogether, glom onto a third party, or turn their attention to getting Bernie's people to take over the Democrat party.
Watch for cultural signals of this shift on Roseanne itself and the audience reactions to it.