Steve Levitan explains how Roseanne Barr inspired Reboot

Steven Levitan explains how Roseanne Barr's scandal led to Reboot

Roseanne Barr; Steven Levitan
Photo: Rachel Luna; Frederick M. Brown (Getty Images)

Hulu’s meta new series Reboot, a spoof on sitcoms and the reboots thereof, has a lot of rich territory to explore in how the sausage gets made. In fact, the territory is so rich that creator Steven Levitan is surprised no one has done it yet, particularly with all the reboots that have emerged and all the behind-the-scenes dramas in recent years.

A major inspiration for Reboot was the implosion of roseannewhich booted its titular character after Roseanne Barr’s racism scandal. Speaking with TheWrap, Levitan says, “I just remember thinking it must be so fascinating to be on that soundstage–you know, for these people to have left, and then made the decision to come back, which I’m sure was tricky, and, then for that to blow up, and all the intrigue, and all the behind the scenes stuff that must have been going on, I’m sure was really intense. And I thought, well, that must just be fascinating.”

Levitan was still working on Modern Family at the time, and assumed the idea “would be gone by the time I finished.” Instead, that series wrapped, and he was able to devote his full attention to the notion: “It just put in my mind this idea of ​​like, oh, a bunch of actors and people coming back to a show after many years for a reboot is a really good arena for comedy. You’re dealing with these larger-than-life people, and under a high pressure situation, and maybe their lives didn’t turn out exactly the way that they had wanted.”

One facet of the comedy, clearly demonstrated in Barr’s lack of tact as the face of her series, is rebooting a show in an era of increased sensitivity and visibility “The whole #MeToo, woke culture, it has changed where you can go, and by and large, in a positive way. Where it gets tricky is when everybody is so scared of offending somebody that you don’t even go anywhere near the line anymore,” Levitan tells The New York Times. Reboot explores this dynamic in its writers’ room, which features a stark divide between the newbies and the old guard.

Reboot also offers commentary on the streaming way while actually streaming on Hulu, something that apparently delighted the network executives. “I don’t know that other platforms would be able to handle the zingers as gracefully as they have,” Karey Burke, the president of 20th Television, tells the NYT. “We loved it,” Craig Erwich, the president of ABC Entertainment, Hulu and Disney branded television streaming originals, confirms. “It’s funny. And it’s funny because it probably rings true.” Mining comedy out of real-life scenarios—jot that one down, writers everywhere.

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