ABC cancels Roseanne following star’s racist tweet

ABC cancelled its hit reboot of Roseanne on Tuesday following star Roseanne Barr’s racist tweet that referred to former Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett as a product of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Planet of the Apes.

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.

The outspoken performer was also dropped by her talent agency, ICM Partners, on Tuesday afternoon. 

Barr had apologized and deleted her Monday-night tweet, calling it a “bad joke,” but the damage had already been done.

The revival of the comedy was a surprise smash for ABC, owned by the Walt Disney Co., and was counted on to lead the network’s fortunes next season.

Its first new episode in March was seen by more than 25 million people, with delayed viewing counted in, numbers that are increasingly rare in network television.

Dungey’s statement cancelling the show came after Wanda Sykes, consulting producer for Roseanne, tweeted that she was leaving. Sara Gilbert, a co-star and an executive producer, also tweeted that the remark was abhorrent.

One of the few network shows about a working-class family, Roseanne attracted considerable attention upon its return when Barr’s character supported President Donald Trump. That made the show popular with conservative viewers, and Trump himself suggested the character’s backing had a lot to do with the show’s success.

But ABC had said that it expected the show, when it returned next fall, to tone down political comedy.

The rebooted show recently concluded its first-season run Tuesdays on CTV but had also been available to stream on and the CTV Go app. A CTV spokesperson said the episodes were being removed from those platforms, as well as the on-demand services available through the country’s various cable providers.

TV columnist Bill Brioux said it’s “terribly sad” the new show was sunk by Barr’s behaviour. 

“I thought the revival was wonderful,” Brioux, who writes for The Canadian Press, told CBC News. “It far exceeded my expectations, I thought all those actors did a wonderful job.… it’s just a shame she could not be made to control herself on Twitter.”

But he speculated that the show might not be dead. 

“I think within the next 48 hours we are going to hear that the show is going to be renamed The Connor Family,” said Brioux, predicting Barr’s character will be killed off and the next season will open with her funeral. 

“You can bet there are lawyers right now working trying to sort this out,” he said. 

Social media storm

The Jarrett comment was one of a series of political tweets made by Barr. She criticized Democratic financier George Soros and tweeted that Chelsea Clinton was “Chelsea Soros Clinton,” implying she was married to a nephew of Soros. Clinton herself corrected Barr online, and Donald Trump Jr. retweeted two of Barr’s statements about Soros, although not the remark about Jarrett.

Jarrett was brought up in response to Twitter commentary that raised her name in relation to an Obama conspiracy theory. Barr tweeted: “muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj.”

She later tweeted an apology to Jarrett. “Forgive me,” she wrote. “My joke was in bad taste.”

The performer’s social media posts quickly sparked an uproar online, with many people calling on ABC to act. Dungey’s statement drew praise from many in the TV community, including ABC showrunners Shonda Rhimes and Kenya Barris.


Leave a Reply