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Trump called Roseanne Barr to congratulate her on show reboot

Barr plays a Trump supporter on the revival of "Roseanne," which returned to the air this week.

by Adam Edelman /  / Updated 
ABC aired the first trailer for Roseann's comeback during the Oscars on Sunday night, and its message was loud and clear: "Nothing has changed."ABC

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President Donald Trump called Roseanne Barr to offer congratulations on the premiere of her hit sitcom's reboot, a White House official told NBC News on Thursday.

The laudatory call to Barr — who plays a Trump supporter on the show and is also one in real life — came after the revival of her show "Roseanne," which returned to ABC this week more than 20 years after it ended after a nine-season run.

Trump's call to the actress was first reported by The New York Times.

Barr, in an interview Thursday morning on ABC's "Good Morning America," said receiving the call was "pretty exciting" and that the president focused much of the chat on praising her over the show's high ratings.

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"It was pretty exciting, I'll tell you that, they said, 'Hold please for the President of the United States of America' and that was about the most exciting thing ever and it was very sweet of him to congratulate us," Barr said.

"We talked about a lot of things, he is just happy for me," she continued. "I have known him for many years and he has done a lot of nice things for me over the years and it was just a friendly conversation about work and television and ratings."

Barr praised Trump, who was a producer and host of "The Apprentice," as someone who "really does understand ratings and how they measure things" and said she was "over the moon" about the support the show has received. "We all just celebrate together and say the Conners are back and we are all really happy," she said.

Trump also gave Barr a shout-out during an Ohio rally Thursday.

"Even look at Roseanne. I called her yesterday," Trump said, extolling the premiere's "unbelievable" ratings for a show "about us."

According to early Nielsen ratings, more than 18 million people tuned in for the first episode of the reboot on Tuesday night. Its 5.1 rating for adults ages 18 to 49 was the highest of any comedy on the major broadcast networks in at least four years.

Like its first iteration, which ran on ABC from 1988 to 1997, "Roseanne" follows the Conners, a working-class family in Illinois enduring its share of struggles — but with plenty of comic relief.

In the reboot, however, Barr made her character a Trump supporter.

The show picks up in a Conner household in which Roseanne (played by Barr) and her sister Jackie (played by Laurie Metcalf) haven’t spoken since the 2016 election, on account of Roseanne having supported Trump and Jackie having supported Hillary Clinton.

In the premiere, the sisters make amends, but not without exchanging politically salient barbs.

"How could you have voted for him, Roseanne?" Jackie, who at one point the episode is wearing a “Nasty Woman” shirt, asks.

"He talked about jobs, Jackie," Roseanne replies. "He said he would shake things up. I mean, this might come as a complete shock to you, but we almost lost our house the way things are going."

“Have you looked at the news?” Jackie retorts. “Because now things are worse.”

“Not on the real news,” Roseanne responds.

The premiere episode focuses heavily on money (and not having it). One plotline follows Darlene, the Conners' younger daughter (played by Sara Gilbert), who moves back in with her parents — along with her own children — because they can’t afford their own place. Roseanne's husband, Dan (John Goodman), has also returned. Meanwhile, D.J., the Conners' son (played by Michael Fishman) is back in the U.S. following an overseas military deployment.

The show also takes a few playful jabs at the ongoing federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

“Oh look, Dan. Russian!” Roseanne blurts out at the dinner table at one point, pointing to a salad dressing container.

Roseanne also incorporates Trump’s campaign slogan into a prayer said before dinner.

“Most of all Lord, thank you for making America great again!” she quips.

In an interview with The Times this week, Barr said she wanted to portray a fan of the president so there would be "an accurate portrayal of these people and people like them ... in terms of what they think, and how they feel."

"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," she said.

During her "Good Morning America" interview Thursday, she said it was important to her that the show be relevant.

"We always like to be current and talk about the things that are happening in our country, we always do on our show, and we want to do it more," she said.

Barr herself has also come out as a Trump supporter in several recent interviews.

She took to Twitter earlier this week to thank her fans for the warm reception to the reboot.

"I am so grateful to the fans of the Roseanne show for giving it a good Premiere rating," she wrote. "You are all wonderful-here is to making America laugh & talk again! LOVE U."

Reviews for the new show have been overwhelmingly positive.

"That Roseanne Barr talking about Donald Trump still makes you uncomfortable is why ABC's revival of the sitcom is still relevant, even in a TV landscape of copycats," the Hollywood Reporter wrote.

The Los Angeles Times' television critics wrote that Barr did "a great job reviving the show without forfeiting its original appeal, which is no easy feat."

"The return of 'Roseanne' doesn't just rely on nostalgia — it makes fun of the fact that the Conners are struggling to keep up with a changing culture. Who doesn't want to see characters who typified the '80s and '90s grapple with the modern world?" they wrote.

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