From Bill Keveny’s “Blue-collar TV: ‘Roseanne,’ ‘The Middle’ show working-class muscle in ABC’s Tuesday combo” at USA Today:
ABC has assembled a blue-collar comedy hour that’s likely to become a high-end ratings district, at least for its short duration.
Starting Tuesday, the network will pair Roseanne (8 ET/PT), which made shabby chic with a huge return last week (25 million viewers and counting) and a quick 11th-season renewal, with ninth-season Midwestern neighbor The Middle (8:30 ET/PT), presenting the first of its final six episodes.
The Conners of Roseanne and the Hecks of The Middle have different sensibilities, as evidenced by the lightning-rod reaction to Roseanne star Roseanne Barr. However, both represent a demographic — families surviving paycheck to paycheck, heartland division — that traditionally gets little representation on TV. (But maybe don’t call them proletarians, unless you’re talking to The Middle‘s Brick Heck.)
Keveny also cites ABC’s “Speechless,” NBC’s “Superstore” and Netflix’s “One Day at a Time” as other examples of network shows that are part of “an uptick in TV characters living paycheck to paycheck” — shows that appeal to working-class families.
The ‘Roseanne’ reboot is getting lots of buzz, owing to the star, Roseanne Barr’s support of Trump. And yes, liberals are often the target of the jokes. But that doesn’t mean well-crafted ads for Democratic candidates won’t be effective, since many voters — and viewers — are conservative on some issues, liberal on others.
While most of these shows have white working-class characters in lead roles, “One Day at a Time” features a Cuban-American family. FX’s drama, “Atlanta” often spotlights Black working-class characters and families. ‘Paycheck to Paycheck’ families of all races likely cross over in significant numbers to watch these shows.
Despite the increasing role of social media in presenting affordable political ads, television still rules when it comes to reaching massive numbers of voters quickly. In terms of internet political advertising, the Cook Political Report projects “a spend total of $600 million driven mostly by advertising done on Facebook,” compared to “$2.4 billion for local broadcast and $850 million for local cable for 2018.”