ABC has canceled Roseanne.
The network’s abrupt decision to yank the reboot comes only hours after star Roseanne Barr made a racist tweet Tuesday morning attacking former President Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett. Barr used Jarrett’s initials and wrote, “Muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby.”
“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 announced Tuesday.
Before ABC’s decision, Barr tried to do damage control by tweeting, “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.” She also said she was leaving Twitter. But the damage had already been done.
Her costar Sara Gilbert tweeted, “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.” Emma Rose Kenney, who plays the daughter of Gilbert’s character, tweeted, “I am hurt, embarrassed, and disappointed. The racist and distasteful comments from Roseanne are inexcusable.” Writer Wanda Sykes quit the show via Twitter. She was one of several high-profile writers — Whitney Cummings and Norm McDonald, among them — who joined the writers’ room when ABC decided to reboot the hit sitcom. Many more celebrities also tweeted their disgust.
After ABC made its shocking announcement, Gilbert tweeted another statement, this time expressing sorrow over the show’s demise. “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 talent agency, ICM, followed suit by dropping the volatile actress as a client.
Meanwhile, Executive Producer Tom Werner — who brought the comedy back to ABC with Gilbert after producing the comedy’s original ABC run under the Carsey-Werner banner — not only released a statement supporting ABC’s move but suggested that Barr needs some “help.”
“Our goal was to promote constructive discussion about the issues that divide us,” Werner said in a statement. “It represented the work of hundreds of talented people. I hope the good work done is not totally eclipsed by these abhorrent and offensive comments, and that Roseanne seeks the help she so clearly needs.”
ABC had already ordered a second season of the sitcom which finished the 2017-18 season as one of the most-watched shows on broadcast TV. The comedy dealt with several contemporary issues like Trump’s election, illegal immigration, and Muslim-Americans. In fact, it was Barr’s idea to do an episode about a Muslim family who moves in next door to the Conners.
Barr’s tweet aimed at Jarrett, an African-American woman who served as a senior adviser for Obama from 2009 to 2017, seemed to refer to conspiracy theories falsely painting her as a closeted Muslim. The Council on American-Islamic Relations — the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization — applauded ABC’s decision to yank the show.
“We welcome the swift and appropriate action taken by ABC and hope it sends a message that the promotion of hatred and bigotry will not be accepted by our nation’s entertainment industry,” said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad in a statement. “Ms. Barr has a First Amendment right to express her views, however Islamophobic or racist, but she does not have a constitutional right to a program on a national television network.”
Though CAIR had previously expressed appreciation for the challenging Islamophobia, “Ms. Barr’s tweet unfortunately does not express the inclusiveness and rejection of bigotry we saw in the episode on Islamophobia,” Awad added.