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Roseanne’s success leads to a Survivor theme change and 13 new blue collar Real Housewives

Roseanne’s success leads to a Survivor theme change and 13 new blue collar Real Housewives
Roseanne Barr, Sara Gilbert, and John Goodman, the stars of ABC's "Roseanne." (Photo by Adam Rose/ABC)

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Bravo has ordered 13 new Real Housewives franchises and Survivor is shifting its theme plans for season 38 as part of the television industry’s reaction to the Hollywood earthquake that was the success of Roseanne. More than 18 million viewers watched Wednesday’s first episode of the rebooted 1990s sitcom, the highest-rated premiere of the season.

Producers were optimistic. “Roseanne just came out of nowhere—which is familiar to us in unscripted, since most of our shows get launched without any promotion or meaningful marketing,” said one source who asked not to be identified.

Each of the new Real Housewives series will focus on groups of blue collar friends, and rumored cities where franchises may be set include Gary, Indiana; Peoria, Ill.; Thonotosassa, Fla.; Palatka, Fla.; and Paducah, Kentucky.

“We don’t have any shows to remake, but after seeing the ratings for one episode and reading an article on Deadline.com that pointed out the amazing connections between Roseanne’s success and Donald Trump’s election, we knew we had to move fast,” said a Bravo executive. “And then once we figured out that airplanes and telephone calls also went to places other than New York and Los Angeles, and that poor people could also have drunken fights and emotional reactions, it was a no-brainer.”

Bravo sources said the network was considering diversifying their current casts after the election, but weren’t able to find any non-rich people in the cities where they currently film, which include New York, Atlanta, and Washington, D.C.

Following other trends in unscripted television, the new Housewives shows will take two to three years to be greenlit, and then be taken off the schedule immediately once they don’t perform well in the ratings.

After Roseanne, Survivor brings back collars

Survivor, which is currently filming season 37 and in pre-production for season 38, is adapting to this news by bringing back Jeff Probst’s favorite theme for season 38, separating tribes by “collars.”

The season that’s currently airing, Survivor Ghost Island, is also being re-edited.

“What people in flyover country really want—besides being referred to as flyover country—is to be pandered to in the most obvious ways possible, and on Survivor, we’ve got that down to a science,” said one source, who was queueing up dramatic music to play every time a person from a low-income background spoke.

For season 38, instead of “white collar” versus “blue collar” versus “no collar,” it will be three blue collar tribes, with each a different shade of blue to illustrate the type of work that the person does. The tribes will be differentiated by their buffs, the underwear production buys them, and the cute nicknames Probst gives to the men he wants to win.

It’s not just Survivor and The Real Housewives that are riding the Roseanne wave. Here are other reactions in reality TV to Roseanne’s ratings:

  • Tyler Henry will do an E! special: “Tyler Henry: Middle Class Medium.” A source said that he is able to talk to the ghost friends of non-celebrities, as long as the price is right.
  • Roseanne’s Nuts, the 2011 series following Roseanne Barr on her Hawaii macadamia nut farm, will be rebroadcast on Tuesdays at 8, the same time as ABC’s broadcast of “Roseanne,” because last week’s ratings prove that’s the only time that blue collar people watch television.
  • Netflix will air a 12-hour documentary series investigating Roseanne’s tweets about ludicrous conspiracy theories that will feature artfully shot b-roll of the heartland. Its press release for the series announced that it’s already the most-popular show on Netflix of all time, though as is its trendy custom, Netflix declined to release ratings data for the show, which has yet to be filmed.
  • A&E greenlit a reboot of Duck Dynasty after an intern pointed out the Duck Dynasty clan are actually multi-millionaires, like Roseanne herself, but gave up once they realized all the screenwriters who could plausibly write blue collar characters for rich people were already working on Roseanne.

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  • Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means.

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