'Roseanne' Was Cancelled Because Of The Star's Racist Tweet — Here's What You Need To Know

The reboot earned good ratings, but it couldn't withstand Roseanne Barr's behaviour.

the cast of Roseanne, which was rebooted but has since been cancelled

The cast of ABC’s Roseanne reboot, which has been cancelled as a result of Roseanne Barr’s racist tweet. Photo, Robert Trachtenberg/ABC via Getty Images.

After a blockbuster reboot, a whole lot of controversy and a racist Twitter outburst from the show’s leading, er, lady, Roseanne 2.0 has been cancelled by ABC, effective immediately. Here’s everything you need to know about the rise, the fall and the Trump of it all.

Roseanne is always saying/doing/singing offensive things. What happened here that was so different?

It’s true that the woman who crotch-scratched her way through the Star Spangled Banner has never been known for good manners. Still, there’s a difference between vulgarity and racist vitriol, which is an apt description of a comment Barr tweeted in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, saying of ex-Obama adviser Valarie Jarrett: “Muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj.” Jarrett is African American, and not surprisingly, the tweet prompted a swift social media backlash. By early the next morning, the comedian had apologized, but for the powers that be at ABC it was too little, too late and too racist.

In a statement released Tuesday, network president Channing Dungey called Barr’s tweet “abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values,” adding: “We have decided to cancel her show.” Disney CEO Bob Iger backed the decision, tweeting: “There was only one thing to do here, and that was the right thing.” (Note: Disney owns ABC.)

But wasn’t the show a massive hit?

Yes! Part of the reason the cancellation is getting so much attention is that the reboot (which premiered to the highest ratings for a comedy in four years) was a rare mega-hit for a network that sorely needs one. More people watched the first episode on March 27 than the 1997 finale, which aired back in the golden era of mass TV audiences, and ABC ordered a second season almost immediately.

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Did the entire original cast return?

Pretty much. Barr returned as both star and executive producer (though not as a writer), and recent Oscar nominee Laurie Metcalf was back as the brilliant Aunt Jackie. Sara Gilbert (who played Darlene, and who was the brain behind the reboot) was also an EP this time around. The Conner family patriarch, Dan (John Goodman), returned despite having died of a heart attack in the original series (a plot hole that was dealt with by pretending that terrible final season never happened). Also back were brother D.J., and both Beckies (Sarah Chalk, a.k.a. Becky #2, guest starred as a woman who wanted to pay Becky to be her surrogate). Two notable absences were the Healy brothers/love interests David (Johnny Galecki, who now stars on The Big Bang Theory) and Mark (the hunky, dim-witted biker played by Glenn Quinn, who died in 2002). The reboot also introduced two new characters, Darlene’s daughter, Harris (who was actually born in the original series), and her son, Mark, whose love for traditionally female clothing was one of the reboot’s many contemporary plot points.

Sounds like times have changed?

While the couch in the living room was the same (a detail Gilbert insisted on to reflect that fact that many families like the Conners are earning less today than they were 20 years ago), the reboot reflected a lot of present-day realities, starting with the fact that Dan and Rosanne were both Trump supporters who voted for the current POTUS because “he talked about jobs”. Present-day Darlene was a single mom forced to move back in with her parents, and Aunt Jackie was a pink-pussy-hat-wearing Democrat who had trouble coming to terms with her sister’s politics. Many critics praised the show for presenting a family divided by politics (a reality in many American households), and it wasn’t just TV writers expressing admiration. On the day following the premiere, President Trump called Barr to congratulate her on the show’s success.

So was the show pro-Trump?

No … and yes … and it depends. While Barr herself is a vocal Trump supporter, the new season was not explicitly pro-Trump so much as an attempt to portray his supporters (and detractors) as complex individuals rather than stereotypes. With real portraits of working-class families not exactly prevalent on TV, the show depicted characters who don’t hang out in overpriced coffee shops and/or oversexed prep schools. And yet, from the start, and certainly as the show continued, there was the uncomfortable issue of separating art and artist, which becomes all the more sticky when the “art” is a thinly veiled version of the artist herself. Roxane Gay wrote a great piece for the New York Times called “The Roseanne Reboot Is Funny. I’m Not Going to Keep Watching,” in which she calls out Barr for her frequent transphobia, anti-feminism and support of alt-right conspiracy theories. (After the Parkland shootings, Barr retweeted a photo suggesting the school shooting was a hoax.)
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Discussions about the show’s politics became even more heated after an early episode featured a joke in which Dan and Rosanne had slept through “all the shows about black and Asian families.” Read here for a great explanation of why the joke sucks, but basically it’s a good example of what prompted more general criticism of Rosanne and of Barr herself — that the show normalized casual bigotry and the us-vs.-them mentality that is gaining steam under the current POTUS.

Has Roseanne said anything about getting axed?

Since the aforementioned apology, Barr said she was leaving Twitter, but so far she has been busy retweeting and quoting tweets from people who are backing her up in spite of ABC’s decision. As of Wednesday morning, Barr was blaming her tweets on Ambien and the fact that it was Memorial Day weekend. (Ambien has since issued a statement saying that racism is “not a known side effect.” Ha!)

What are the other cast members saying?

Gilbert expressed her outrage and disappointment at Barr’s comments on Twitter, noting that her views don’t reflect those of the cast or crew, who have all lost their jobs as a result of Barr’s bad judgment. So far no word from Goodman, but these TMZ snaps suggest he’s having a crappy day. And nothing from George Clooney, who played Jackie’s boyfriend Booker on the original series, and who turned down a role in the reboot. (Good call, dude.)

What about Valerie Jarrett?

In a master class on class, Jarrett told MSNBC that she is “fine,” and hopes this incident serves as a teachable moment. She also expressed concern for people who experience “ordinary examples of racism that happen every single day.”


In a master class in ass, the president tweeted: “Bob Iger of ABC called Valerie Jarrett to let her know that ‘ABC does not tolerate comments like those’ made by Roseanne Barr. Gee, he never called President Donald J. Trump to apologize for the HORRIBLE statements made and said about me on ABC. Maybe I just didn’t get the call?”