Roseanne’s Racist Remark Just Got TV’s #1 Rated Show Cancelled
After more than 20 years since its series finale, Roseanne returned to television this year. Comedian and show creator Roseanne Barr reprised her role as the matriarch of the “Conner” family in a show once revered for its portrayal of a blue-collar Midwestern family dealing with unemployment, bill collectors, domestic abuse, and other issues not often shown on television.
Nine episodes in Season 10, the relaunch of the series has become the “highest-rated show on television,” according to Rolling Stone. The ratings have come with some controversy, as the ABC series portrayed members of a TV family that were in vocal support of Donald Trump in office. The title character uses the 2016 election results to taunt Hillary Clinton-supporting sister, “Jackie.”
Away from her show, Barr is an outspoken conservative who has also stated her support for Trump before and since the election. Throughout the last decade, Roseanne was vocally critical of President Barack Obama in and out of office. This morning (May 29), while commenting on that administration, the 65-year-old comedian, writer, and actress tweeted a racist remark.
Barr described Obama aide Valerie Jarrett as looking like the offspring of the “Muslim Brotherhood & Planet of the Apes.” Jarrett, an African-American, was born in Iran to American parents, reports Variety. The tweet was since deleted (screenshot courtesy of Graphic Policy) and followed by two apologetic remarks from Barr.
In the minutes and hours following the deleted tweet, fallout transpired. Actress/comedian Wanda Sykes announced that she would not return to Roseanne. Sara Gilbert, who has played “Darlene Conner” since the late 1980s, responded with outrage, “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. 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.”
However, ABC made what is perhaps the boldest move. “Roseanne’s Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel her show,” ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey said in a statement, pulling the plug on the highest-rated show. Recently, ABC and Roseanne agreed to producing an eleventh season.
Barr’s social media choices have caused criticism before. In 2012, she released the identities, address and phone number of parents to Trayvon Martin’s killer, George Zimmerman. Zimmerman’s parents sued Barr, who was ultimately found not guilty of any wrongdoing. Two months ago Barr tweeted that a Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting survivor gave an Adolf Hitler salute during the March For Our Lives event. The March 24 tweet was later deleted.
Roseanne‘s cancellation marks a new precedent for the network. In one of televised most talked-about off-the-field moments, Howard Cosell once described Washington Redskins’ Alvin Garrett making a play as “that little monkey gets loose doesn’t he.” The remark came during a live September 1983 telecast of Monday Night Football. Cosell, who refused to apologize for his words (claiming he did not recall saying them), was never reprimanded. Notably, Cosell was dismissed by the network two years later after making critical comments about the company in his memoir.
Roseanne Barr has not responded publicly to the cancellation.