Remakes and reboots have always been common, but the recent trend in entertainment begs the question: why the surge for revival shows?
Films like “Star Wars” and “Beauty and the Beast” have recently gotten the reboot and remake treatments respectively, but there’s an interesting uptick in reviving small screen franchises as well. Film and television experts have weighed in, and what they’ve said may surprise you.
America’s film and TV industry is a risky and competitive one and it appears that reboots have become an entertainment security blanket. The idea of bringing a loved TV show back to life allows media companies to profit from playing it safe. And there are plenty of revivals to prove the point.
“In today’s unsettled environment, having television shows that feel positive and familiar are probably a good thing for viewers,” explained Miro Copic, a marketing professor from San Diego State University.
“Risk aversion has really paid off, and studios and production companies have noticed this,” said pop culture export Walt Hickey of FiveThirtyEight. “Recently the industry has seen a solid string of success born out of rebooting or upgrading content from the past. This is a risk-averse strategy. You bank on content where people already have a sense of the characters, they have a sense of what the plot is, what the story is.”
“They already know these brands, and these combinations have worked on one generation and, if written properly, will work again,” agreed film editor Anita Busch of Deadline. “It’s why movie sequels really began. Tried and true and lessens the risk, as these companies are very risk averse and with millions of dollars being spent.”
Certain reboots either create an entirely new story such as the 2011 version of Charlie’s Angels, or cast new actors to play the same characters in a modern retelling such as the 2010 version of Hawaii Five-0 and the 2016 version of MacGyver. However, bringing back the original cast gives people an even more intense sense of nostalgia. NBC did it when they brought back “Will & Grace,” one of the top-grossing comedies of the late 90s and early 2000s. ABC also recently brought back “Roseanne,” and it is breaking records left and right—for a reason.
Getting Real with Roseanne
On the heels of other successful revival shows, “Roseanne” is breaking records. Why is the show about “America’s Family” significant? They have embraced modern America in ways other TV shows don’t, representing a nontraditional family on TV. They have defied stereotypes but still portray great parents raising their family while dealing with troubling issues such as racism and abortion during the show’s initial run – a bold idea not many TV shows have pulled off successfully.
Today, the cast deals with topics such as Roseanne and her sister Jackie Harris (portrayed by Laurie Metcalf) having political differences, or Roseanne’s granddaughter Mary (portrayed by Jayden Ray) being biracial, and grandson Mark (portrayed by Ames McNamara) being “gender creative,” among other interesting story plots.
Returning after 21 years since its last episode from the original nine-season run, Roseanne is clearly one of the biggest names in the disruptive revival trend. Named one of the best portrayals of an American family on TV sitcom history, the show still has plenty of polarity from audiences.
Nielsen data reveals that Roseanne’s revived 10th season, starring original mainstays Roseanne Barr and John Goodman as Roseanne and Dan Conner, is today’s number one TV show. The show got the biggest total viewer lift, having 6.6 million viewers—beating the record of 5.9 million set by its fellow ABC series “How to Get Away with Murder”—bringing Roseanne’s three-day total viewers to 25 million.
Roseanne Barr is one of few in Hollywood who openly supports President Donald Trump, but her eponymous TV show is surprisingly pulling people together rather than apart. What are the implications of the new show to the entertainment industry?
“It’s just realistic,” Barr said of her character, the mother of a working-class family, “(and) it was working-class people who elected Trump.” It’s not just her generic support of the current President of the United States that makes both the actress and her TV show interesting for audiences. People have always wondered if America’s TV is ready for a blatantly pro-Trump character (and actress behind it). While Barr, a self-described “radical,” has expressed vocal support of the current POTUS both in and out of character, the show does it tastefully.
“We so often surround ourselves with people we agree with, so going into the writers room was often like, ‘Eeeeek.’” Said Whitney Cummings, producer and co-writer of the show. “We were challenging each other, and I definitely wanted to go back into my Huffington Post or Vulture cocoon where everyone agrees, but it’s really important to be with people you disagree with when you’re writing.”
There are many other titles still in the works, such as the possibilities of The Twilight Zone, Party of Five, and Miami Vice making their own comebacks on the small screen. It will be up to the audiences to accept (or reject) these “new” shows.