ABC Cancels ‘Roseanne’ Revival Over Offensive Tweet
The ‘Roseanne’ reboot is dead at ABC after the network pulled the plug in response to a controversial tweet. In that tweet, the controversial comedienne targeted a former Obama advisor.
ABC announced one of its big hits this season, the Roseanne reboot, won’t be back.
The announcement was the biggest piece of fallout from a “joke” Roseanne Barr tweeted about Valerie Jarrett, an advisor to President Barack Obama. Jarrett, an African-American, was born in Iran to American parents, Variety reported.
USA Today reported that it began with a tweet (presumably from someone else) that accused Jarrett of helping hide Obama administration “misdeeds.” Roseanne’s tweet, which has since been deleted but remains alive because of countless screen captures, read:
muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj
The comedienne later apologized for the tweet, calling it a “bad joke” and acknowledging it was “in bad taste:”
I apologize to Valerie Jarrett and to all Americans. I am truly sorry for making a bad joke about her politics and her looks. I should have known better. Forgive me-my joke was in bad taste.
— Roseanne Barr (@therealroseanne) May 29, 2018
But an apology apparently wasn’t nearly enough for ABC, the network that carried Barr’s original Roseanne series as well as its reboot this past season.
First, Channing Dungey, president of ABC Entertainment, released this statement:
“Roseanne’s Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel her show.”
Then, Bob Iger, the CEO of Disney, which owns ABC, added to that in a tweet:
“There was only one thing to do here, and that was the right thing.”
Roseanne later returned to Twitter, apologizing again, implying she was suffering side effects of Ambien when she tweeted the message and asked fans to stop trying to defend her tweets. She also asked that they not start a boycott of ABC.
‘Roseanne’ reboot fans furious over cancellation
The announcement led to both celebration and outrage. Some of those expressing outrage seemed to be Trump supporters and quickly started tossing out examples of people who had criticized Donald Trump in various programs without any action taken against them.
Some of these same self-describe “patriots” who think Roseanne shouldn’t be punished for speaking her mind certainly weren’t so tolerant of Colin Kaepernick and others who didn’t speak a word but rather kneeled during the national anthem. Where was their outrage to support his right to speak his mind and protest social injustice? (For the record, I support efforts to combat social injustice, but I think choosing the national anthem as the time to do it leads to more controversy and arguing than any real attentiveness to the bigger message.)
Beyond that, they completely missed the bigger point: criticizing the President is one thing — and something some of them did at every opportunity they could over the previous administration. Comparing a black person to an ape is very different. It wasn’t appropriate when it was done 100 years ago, or 50 years ago, or even 25 years ago. But the fact that we’re in the 21st century and there are so many people trying to defend it to keep a sitcom on the air ought to be enough of a shock to give everyone pause.
And in attempting to defend Barr’s right to “free speech,” they likewise missed another often-overlooked point: one’s right to free speech does not eliminate the possibility of consequences for having spoken out. That concept is as old as the Bible itself, as in 1 Corinthians 10:23, which says this:
“I have the right to do anything,” you say–but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”–but not everything is constructive.
I guess the Bible doesn’t matter to ABC’s critics, either.
Co-stars began speaking out as ABC canceled show
But while fans of the show dug in their heels to side with the star of the show, some of her co-stars quickly spoke out against her.
Sarah Gilbert, who portrayed daughter Darlene, called the comments “abhorrent” and said they didn’t reflect the beliefs of the cast. She said she was “disappointed in her actions to say the least.”
Roseanne’s recent comments about Valerie Jarrett, and so much more, are abhorrent and do not reflect the beliefs of our cast and crew or anyone associated with our show. I am disappointed in her actions to say the least.
— sara gilbert (@THEsaragilbert) May 29, 2018
A short time later, she followed it with this:
This is incredibly sad and difficult for all of us, as we’ve created a show that we believe in, are proud of, and that audiences love— one that is separate and apart from the opinions and words of one cast member.
— sara gilbert (@THEsaragilbert) May 29, 2018
Meanwhile, actor Michael Fishman, who played Roseanne’s son, DJ, said he was devastated by the cancellation. But he didn’t mince words about the comments, saying, “I condemn these statements statements [sic] vehemently. They are reprehensible and intolerable, contrdicting [sic] my beliefs and outlook on life and society.”
— Michael Fishman (@ReelMFishman) May 29, 2018
Younger actress Emma Kenney, who played the newly-introduced character of Roseanne’s granddaughter, said she was “hurt, embarrassed, and disappointed:”
I am hurt, embarrassed, and disappointed. The racist and distasteful comments from Roseanne are inexcusable.
— Emma Kenney (@EmmaRoseKenney) May 29, 2018
Reaction to the stars’ tweets ranged from supportive to accusatory, with some expressing sorrow for the end of the show while others claiming the celebrities knew what they were getting into when they signed a new deal with “her.”
As of this writing, neither John Goodman, who co-starred as Roseanne’s husband, Dan, or Laurie Metcalf, who played her sister, Jackie, have made public statements.
And President Donald Trump, who was the focus of political attraction of the character Roseanne portrayed, had not commented on the cancellation as of midnight Wednesday morning.
ABC isn’t the only one pulling the plug.
The Wrap reported Tuesday afternoon that in addition to the Roseanne reboot, reruns of the original series were being pulled from Paramount Network, TV Land and CMT, channels all owned by Viacom.
I don’t know what in the world TV Land is going to do on Saturdays since they run that one show for 10 hours in a row — from 6:00am until 4:00pm. I mean, really…no matter how good a show is, there are other things they could play. I don’t think GSN runs Steve Harvey’s Family Feud that much in a day, although it might be close.
It’s worth noting that though The Wrap indicated the schedule changes would take effect Wednesday, as of early Wednesday morning, Roseanne reruns remained on the TV Land schedule online.
And then there’s the talent agency Bar signed with last August, which told Variety they were parting ways with her as well.
Suddenly, Roseanne is as hot of a rock as Bill Cosby after his conviction, at which point networks like Bounce immediately pulled all reruns of his Cosby Show. He was convicted of committing a crime, while she merely made a distasteful post on social media.
Should another network jump in or should the show have continued without Barr?
Some fans were clamoring for ABC to keep the show but just ditch Roseanne and rename it Dan. Some even referred to broadcast precedent, pointing out that the NBC sitcom Valerie dumped star Valerie Harper and renamed the program, The Hogan Family.
Valerie premiered on NBC in 1986, but after the second season, Harper got into a salary dispute and ended up being replaced by Sandy Duncan. At that point, the show was renamed Valerie’s Family for the third season and then The Hogan Family for seasons 4-6. It was the first time the star of a series (after whom the series was named) was successfully replaced and written out.
Could this have worked at ABC? I don’t think so. Unlike Harper, Barr is at least as infamous as she is famous. Roseanne without Roseanne would probably last for two episodes.
Should another network pull a last-minute save and give the second season of the Roseanne reboot a new home? The problem here is that a network is going to have to do what ABC couldn’t bring itself to: ignore the negative publicity and potential damage to its image just to make more money. (The premiere episode of the reboot had the highest ratings of any sitcom in four years, after all.)
Some networks might be less worried about their image. But are they unconcerned enough to actually rescue the show? That remains to be seen, but I think it’s unlikely.