ABC canceled “Roseanne” on Tuesday afternoon after star Roseanne Barr went on a racist Twitter rant, comparing former Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett to an ape.
“Roseanne’s Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel her show,” said ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey in a statement.
This spring’s revival of the ’90s sitcom premiered to huge ratings and ranked as the No. 3 scripted series on broadcast TV this season overall. ABC had ordered a second season of 13 episodes for this fall.
Barr is known for spreading pro-Trump, anti-Democratic conspiracy theories on social media. In one tweet early Tuesday, she wrote of Jarrett, “Muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj.”
Barr attracted swift and widespread backlash, and a social-media wave built demanding that the show be canceled. Within hours, “Roseanne” producer Wanda Sykes publicly quit the show on Twitter. “I will not be returning to @RoseanneOnABC,” she tweeted. (Sykes, who is black and gay, defended Barr as “just an old lady who shouldn’t be on Twitter” in an April interview with Metro.) Producer and standup comic Whitney Cummings had already left the show earlier this month.
“Roseanne” co-star and producer Sara Gilbert tweeted that Barr’s remarks were “abhorrent and do not reflect the beliefs of our cast and crew or anyone associated with our show. 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.”
Barr’s tweeting of conspiracy theories had attracted controversy even before the revival was announced. ABC executives “privately said they hold their noses when Barr tweets,” CNN’s Brian Stelter reported. “They know some of her posts are problematic.”
As part of her tweetstorm that included the racist comment about Jarrett, Barr tweeted that Chelsea Clinton was married to a nephew of Democratic donor George Soros, who was “a nazi who turned in his fellow Jews 2 be murdered in German concentration camps & stole their wealth.” Neither is true.
When was “Roseanne” canceled?
Amid the growing firestorm, around 10:30am today Barr apologized and said she was leaving Twitter. “I am truly sorry for making a bad joke about her politics and her looks,” Barr tweeted about Jarrett. “I should have known better. Forgive me — my joke was in bad taste.”
But ABC executives had finally had enough. The cancellation came less than four hours later.
What is “The Conners”?
On June 21, ABC announced that it would continue the series, without Roseanne Barr, under the working title of “The Conners.” The network has ordered 10 episodes of the revised show, and it says Barr will have no financial or creative participation. “The Conners” will air at 8pm on Tuesdays this fall, the same time slot originally announced for “Roseanne.”
“The Conners’ stories demonstrate that families can always find common ground through conversation, laughter and love. The spinoff will continue to portray contemporary issues that are as relevant today as they were 30 years ago,” said an ABC spokesperson in a statement.
It’s not clear how Barr will be written off the show.
In a joint statement, cast members John Goodman, Laurie Metcalf, Sara Gilbert, Lecy Goranson and Michael Fishman said, “We have received a tremendous amount of support from fans of our show, and it’s clear that these characters not only have a place in our hearts, but in the hearts and homes of our audience. We all came back last season because we wanted to tell stories about the challenges facing a working-class family today. We are so happy to have the opportunity to return with the cast and crew to continue to share those stories through love and laughter.”