by Graham Pierrepoint
Roseanne, the self-titled family sitcom that was originally a vehicle for comedian Roseanne Barr a number of years ago, has come back to surprising viewing figures – so much so, that they were effectively beating some of comedy’s biggest goliaths in the same timeslot. While the show’s initial two-show viewer spurt had largely died down, a second season was already on the cards at ABC – that was, however, until Barr made a number of tweets on Tuesday morning that not only saw high-profile personnel leave the show, but also saw the network pull the plug completely. So what went on?
Barr, an outspoken Republican supporter who has made no secret of her support of US President Donald Trump, has been involved in back-and-forths on Twitter before – but on this occasion, it was a racist remark regarding a former Obama White House advisor that resulted in a cascade of dominoes that led to the fall of her show’s revival – showing, perhaps, how far things have evolved – as TV stars didn’t have access to such public platforms when Roseanne was initially at its peak of popularity.
Barr, having tweeted numerous times regarding several theories (one including a false allegation that billionaire George Soros had ‘turned in his fellow Jews to be murdered in German concentration camps’ – Soros was a child during World War II) – caused a storm with comments regarding Valerie Jarrett, who had worked under Barack Obama during the last Democratic administration. “Muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj”, tweeted Barr, which many claimed to be racist and provocative – with Barr responding to claims of such racism by tweeting “ISLAM is not a RACE, lefties. Islam includes EVERY RACE of people.”
From there, things toppled. Barr reportedly advised she would be leaving the social network, apologizing. “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.” Many didn’t see the funny side – as consulting producer and comedian Wanda Sykes almost immediately announced her resignation from the proposed second season of Roseanne, and with Barr’s long-term co-star and on-screen daughter Sara Gilbert speaking for the rest of the cast – “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.”
And then – it was the network’s turn to react. Despite playing to a mass audience of around 18 million people, ABC decided to pull the show as soon as possible after the fallout. In a short, yet straightforward statement, they advised: “Roseanne’s Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel her show.” All in all – it perhaps goes to show – how important it is to choose your words wisely – in public or otherwise.
▶ ABC Cancels Reboot Of 'Roseanne' After Racist Tweets By Show's Star Roseanne Barr