When last we saw Roseanne Conner, in 1997, the character was sitting alone on that old living room couch, after revealing that her husband, Dan, had died of a heart attack and that all nine seasons of “Roseanne” had been a grief-induced fantasy about her family. (Or something like that.)
Now “Roseanne” is back, the fantasy is out and Trump is in.
The show and its Emmy-winning star, Roseanne Barr, have returned to ABC. Dan’s back, too, played again by John Goodman. Also returning is daughter Darlene (Sara Gilbert, who is an executive producer, as well) and much of the original cast.
“Roseanne” was a bona fide trailblazer the first time around, with its focus on blue-collar Americans, its diversity of LGBT characters, and its star — a woman who did not look or sound like a typical television female lead. The new “Roseanne” is topical in its own ways, starting with Roseanne Conner’s full-throated support for President Donald Trump.
Barr, a Trump backer in real life, is now 65 and living in Hawaii, where she has a macadamia nut farm. During a phone chat with the New York Times’ politics editor, she talked about the show’s revival, her stormy past on the series, her views on women in Hollywood and her feelings about Trump.
Q: You ran for president in 2012. What was that about?
A: To bring up questions and conversation that I wasn’t hearing anywhere. Specifically, how the public’s money never ends up going to the public.
Q: Why play Roseanne again?
A: Everybody seemed to be into it and, you know, the conditions that I wanted were right.
Q: What conditions?
A: I wanted somebody else to do the work that I wasn’t good at, and to let me do the work that I was good at. I don’t like arguing with people. I just am over it and I don’t like fighting. Sara Gilbert stepped into that role nicely.
Q: The last time around, you threatened to quit over creative conflicts. Are things different this time?
A: It was incredible this time. I was very protected and respected. I wasn’t having to explain why I wanted things.
Q: Thirty years ago when “Roseanne” started, what were you treated like?
A: I was just not respected as a woman artist, but you know I think I paid my dues and some time passed and the world changed.
Q: Do you think women have more opportunities today in Hollywood to tell the stories they want to tell?
A: I don’t know. There’s a lot more women who are featured, but I don’t know if they are doing what they really want to do.
Q: How are you different from during the last run of “Roseanne”?
A: I’m a grandma now. I’m older and wiser. I appreciate things better, and appreciate having an opportunity at age 65 to come back and do what I love to.
Q: What kind of stories did you want to tell on the new “Roseanne”?
A: How families are still struggling and what they do about it. There’s an arc in this season, and it’s the closest I’ve been to doing what I want to do. It’s about everything in our country. It’s about opioids and health care. How we deal with whole new issues that we didn’t even have before, like gender-fluid kids. How working-class people — how and why they elected Trump.
Q: Roseanne Conner has become a Trump supporter. How did that happen?
A: I just wanted to have that dialogue about families torn apart by the election and their political differences of opinion and how we handle it. I thought that this was an important thing to say at this time.
Q: Was it your idea for Roseanne to back Trump?
A: Yes. Because it’s an accurate portrayal of these people and people like them. In terms of what they think, and how they feel when they are the ones who send their kids over to fight. We’ve been in wars for a long, long time, which everybody seems to forget — but working-class people don’t forget it because their kids are in it.
Q: Did you get any pushback from ABC about making Roseanne a Trump supporter?
A: Not from ABC, no.
Q: From whom?
A: Everyone else in the world. You know, people want to stick to their narrative and they don’t want it shaken up. But, you know, I was like, “Oh, here we go. I’m just the person for this job.”
Q: As a member of the working class, why does Roseanne Conner support Trump?
A: Well, I think working-class people were pissed off about Clinton and NAFTA, so let’s start there. That’s what broke all the unions and we lost all our jobs, so I think that’s a large part of why they voted for Trump because they didn’t want to see it continue, where our jobs are shipped away.
Q: Let’s talk about the impact “Roseanne” had as a show. I remember your same-sex kiss with Mariel Hemingway in 1994. Do you think that paved the way for the LGBT characters that followed?
A: I don’t know. You’ll have to ask somebody else. It’s not up to me to say those things.
Q: But you thought those were important stories at the time, right?
A: I wouldn’t have taken the heat that I took if I didn’t think it was an important thing to do. Just like now. I’m taking a lot of heat, and if I didn’t think that I was right and that it was important, by God, I wouldn’t be doing it.