ABC has decided to cancel its Roseanne revival following star Roseanne Barr's racist tweet Tuesday (May 29). "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 Tuesday.
Early Tuesday, star, head writer and exec producer Barr attacked former President Obama White House adviser Valerie Jarrett in a since-deleted tweet in which she said "Muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj." Barr subsequently apologized: "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."
The tweet prompted a massive outcry across social media, berating Barr and calling on ABC to cancel the comedy. The Disney-owned network's decision to cancel the series marked the first time the network has taken action in response to one of Barr's controversial tweets.
In response to Barr's tweet, co-star and exec producer Sara Gilbert — who was the driving force of the revival — blasted her longtime friend and colleague. "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," she wrote on Twitter. "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." Wanda Sykes, who served as a consultant on season one, also tweeted Tuesday that she would not be returning to the series following Barr's racist tweet.
sara gilbert✔@THEsaragilbert 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.
10:21 AM - May 29, 2018
sara gilbert✔@THEsaragilbertThis 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.
10:21 AM - May 29, 2018
Roseanne was slated to return in the fall for an expanded 11th season of 13 episodes as ABC looked to build on the show's momentum. In a victory lap of sorts, Barr was the centerpiece of ABC's upfront presentation to Madison Avenue ad buyers earlier this month. ABC rebooted Roseanne as part of a push to program to middle America — aka Trump America. The revival was part of a larger effort by Dungey — broadcast's lone African-American network topper — to program to the underserved community who turned out in force to elect Trump. The success of the Roseanne revival has prompted other broadcast networks to pick up a wave of multicamera comedies in a larger push to program to middle America.
Roseanne, both in its rebooted season as in its original run, has never shied away from taking on topical and controversial subjects. The May 22 season finale set the stage to explore a larger debate about healthcare in America. Roseanne has not shied away from topical issues facing the working class. Like the spirit of the original run, which had a history of addressing larger political and social issues, the revival famously opened its new season with an episode that explored the country's divisive response to President Trump, whom Barr has publicly supported. The storyline between Roseanne and her sister, Jackie (Laurie Metcalf), was designed to reflect the debate among Trump's working-class base and spur a larger discussion.
The reboot also found itself under the microscope earlier this season when a one-off joke taking aim at fellow ABC comedies Black-ish and Fresh Off the Boat was blasted as being "reductive" and "belittling."
ABC's decision to cancel Roseanne leaves the network with a major hole on its schedule as the series was set to open its Tuesday lineup at 8 p.m. ABC now heads into the 2018-19 broadcast season without TV's No. 1 series and without prolific showrunner Shonda Rhimes, who exited last year for a deal with Netflix.