To say that todays Roseanne drama escalated quickly would be an understatement. Its one of those rare occasions in which the karma and schadenfreude are delivered swiftly and effectively. A habitual and largely unrepentant line stepper finally goes over the edge and is met with actual consequences. But whats grating is that it took this long for it to happen.
In case you have been blissfully dwelling beneath a rock, heres a recap:
2:45 a.m. EST: In typical Roseanne fashion, Roseanne Barr takes a bizarre and clearly racist shot at former Obama aide Valerie Jarrett, writing Muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj. According to Barr, it was a joke in response to another tweeters conspiracy theory about secrets that Jarrett allegedly helped cover up. Backlash almost immediately ensues.
9:33 a.m. Barr apologizes to Valerie Jarrett and all Americans, tweeting that the joke was in bad taste and that she should have known better. [Note: Clearly this was not a momentary lapse in judgment, given that 1) Barr is known for spreading hateful, Pro-Trump rhetoric and conspiracy theories online and 2) she made similarly awful comments about Susan Rice in 2013.] She also announces that shes leaving Twitter. Color me unconvinced.
11:04 a.m.: Comedian Wanda Sykes, who had been working on the show as a consulting producer, tweets that she will not be returning to Roseanne.
12:21 p.m.: Roseanne star and executive producer Sara Gilbert, who reprised her role as Darlene Conner for the reboot, follows suit by condemning Barrs statements.
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.
1:45 p.m.: ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey releases a statement that reads, Roseannes Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel her show. Not long after, she is also dropped by her talent agency, ICM Partners.
This all happened in under 12 hours.
The Roseanne reboot was controversial from the start. Its star has been spreading conspiracy theories and peddling racist and anti-semitic rhetoric online for years. And while it is always difficult to separate the art from the artist, its impossible in this case. Both Roseanne Barr and the fictional Roseanne Conner are avid and incredibly vocal Trump supporters, turning the reboot into yet another installment of Trump Supporters: Theyre Just Like Us! Many would-be viewers skipped the reboot off of the strength of that alone, and yet, the Roseanne was slated to be a major fixture in ABCs upcoming Fall lineup.
Then, there is the way the DisneyABC Television Group has handled political commentary from black creatives and commentators within the past year. For starters, ABC decided not to air a Black-ish episode that discussed NFL players kneeling in protest during the national anthem. Although Dungey went on the record saying that the episode was pulled because there were a number of elements to the episode that we had a hard time coming to terms on, the decision was widely criticized by the shows fans, particularly in light of the fact that nearly all of the Roseanne reboots episodes were decidedly political and divisive.
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.
For example, there was the controversial Go Cubs episode, in which Roseanne assumes her new Muslim neighbors are terrorists. In the end, she sort of learns tolerance and its all wrapped up in about 28 minutes, but for many, it still did not compute. How could the same network decide to pull an episode about black athletes protesting racism and police violence, but allow another show to air an episode in which the main character is vocally Islamophobic?
Then, there was the Jemele Hill x ESPN debacle. Hill, who was then working as a co-anchor of ESPNs 6 p.m. SportsCenter, was suspended for two weeks in October 2017 for violating the companys social media policy. Jerry Jones, the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, had threatened to bench any player who refused to stand for the national anthem, and Hill responded by tweeting that fans should boycott vendors and advertisers affiliated with the team. This came only a short time after Hill tweeted that Trump was a white supremacist, a move that had earned her a warning from the higher-ups, but no official punishment.
Although Hill regretted putting ESPN in a bad spot, she refused to walk back her statements. There was a huge amount of speculation about what would happen next in her career, and eventually, she left SportsCenter to write for ESPNs site, the Undefeated. Although Hill insisted that this was her first choice, the entire debacle gave some ESPN fans pause. Hill had vocalized her personal thoughts about a polarizing topic and was swiftly punished, but Barr, who has spread vitriolic hatred online for years, was not publicly rebuked until she literally called a black woman an ape.
So, yes, there is quite a bit of gleeful cheering at the idea of Roseanne Barr getting her comeuppance, but it is tempered with a heavy dose of What took so long?