ABC says Roseanne will edge away from politics as it goes into next season.
While on a conference call with reporters, ABC entertainment president Channing Dungey was asked if she felt that stories about Roseanne Barr’s politics have overshadowed how the comedy series revival is perceived as entertainment. “I do think there’s a little bit of that, yes,” she agreed.
Moreover, Dungey says the show will aim to be less political moving forward into next season.
“The show certainly did touch on some of that in the first episode in a very funny way, to look at the different political views between Roseanne and Jackie,” she said. “That said, having touched on it in the first episode of the season, I think when you look on subsequent episodes of the run, the focus is not really on politics and much more on family and the everyday trials and tribulations that the family faces that still bring them together.”
And when Roseanne returns for its next season the fall? “I think they’ll continue on the path they’re on toward the latter part of this season, which is away from politics and more focused on family,” she said.
Dungey also defended a controversial joke on Roseanne from a few weeks back that mocked ABC’s diverse comedies like black-ish and Fresh Off the Boat (Roseanne: “We missed all the shows about black and Asian families” / Dan: “They’re just like us”).
“I was a little surprised, to be honest, by the reaction to that line,” Dungey said, noting that she supported the Roseanne writers in this incident. “We felt writers were looking to tip a hat to those shows. It certainly wasn’t meant to offend. I do stand by the Roseanne writers. I think they were expressing the point of view of the Connors, and what they would have actually said. We do similar things on our other shows. We’re very clear on black-ish about how many opinions are voiced by Dre Johnson.”
Dungey made the comments shortly after ABC unveiled its new fall schedule which has Roseanne back in the fall for 13 episodes. The schedule has Fresh Off the Boat moving to Fridays at 8 p.m. where it will go head-to-head with a former ABC series, Last Man Standing, which the network canceled last year. On Monday, Fox executives admitted that the success of Roseanne was a factor in bringing back Last Man Standing, which stars the politically conservative Tim Allen. Fox executives likewise downplayed politics as a factor with the show. “Tim’s personal politics are not a big feature of the show and if you were to talk to Tim he would say [his character] is a centrist and the show never delved deeply into politics,” said Gary Newman, Fox Television’s other Chairman and CEO.
Dungey defending canceling Last Man Standing during the conference call today, noting the network, “made the best decision with the information we had at the time…unfortunately, we were not able to come to terms with our studio partners … I wish them every success with their return on Fox.”