Everyone's favorite '90s working class drama is making a comeback, and to celebrate the return of Roseanne ABC is taking New York City commuters on a a nostalgic immersion experience — complete with retro afghan blankets — as a literal hype vehicle.
All-new episodes with the same familiar cast returns to ABC on March 27th after a a 20-year hiatus — and in an effort to drum up excitement and retro viewership, riders of the New York City MTA subway's Grand Central to Times Square shuttle service will be treated to all the nostalgia fit to wrap a subway car for the next month leading up to the first new episode in two decades.
To promote Roseanne, ABC just turned New York's shuttle train between Grand Central Station & Times Square into the Conner family living room for the next month. One of the coolest bits of marketing I've seen!— John Squires (@FreddyInSpace) March 2, 2018
Pics via @Adweek. pic.twitter.com/i6MujJYsLs
According to AdWeek, the train cars recreate the set of Dan and Roseanne Conner's living room in amazing detail:
The subway seats are camouflaged to look like the Conner's famous couch — which also made an appearance at last year's ABC upfront — down to the appearance of the iconic afghan. Meanwhile, the ends of each subway car are patterned after a fireplace, with photos of the Conner family and other tchotchkes on the mantle. The walls feature portraits of Barr, Goodman, and the cast.
The elephant in the subway car living room is the how the show (and Roseanne Barr herself) will and do reflect our extreme and turbulent political times.
"I've always attempted to portray a realistic portrait of the American people and the working class people [with Roseanne], and, in fact, it was working class people who elected Trump," Barr told the Television Critics Association back in January. She added that she wanted to focus on "polarization in the family" in particular, and "people actually hating other people for the way they voted."
Executive producer and co-showrunner Whitney Cummings also wrote, in a Vulture column about rebooting and adapting Roseanne in 2018 for the Trump era, that she's actually attempting to bridge our divide by bringing together a unified, nostalgic audience around Roseanne at a time when our online presences and social media have so "bifurcated" our realities and created "echo chambers" that "we're not even exposed to the lives of 'the other side' anymore."
Cummings also says that it was a no-brainer to jump on board because Roseanne was her favorite show growing up in the 90s, and that she felt a particular call to action based on a conversation she (and other TV writers) had with Michelle Obama years ago, in the context of the impact that other shows with gay characters had on America's views about and empathy for gay marriage rights.
In the Vulture piece, she writes:
Turns out, many Americans never get to know or even meet people who aren't like them, so putting them on a flickering box in their living room — full of vulnerabilities, problems, jokes, and dreams — is a great way to develop empathy toward a type of person they may normally not cross paths with. Turns out, fictional characters saying pre-written lines in bespoke costumes on a soundstage can actually make a dent in social change. There are times in comedy when I feel like a self-indulgent child avoiding the real world, but hearing that information made me think that maybe what's on TV in the next year could influence how this national healing process goes.
If, like me, you now want to immerse yourself in reminders about all things 90s-era Roseanne before tuning in to watch the reboot at the end of the month, Mental Floss has a great two-part series with all the Roseanne trivia fit to print.
Or, if you're riding out some of the extreme weather conditions this weekend, binge-watch all nine seasons of the original Roseanne on Amazon Video (free for Prime members), and set your DVRs for the reboot on ABC on March 27th.