Roseanne Barr criticized ABC and The Conners after it was revealed on the series premiere that her Roseanne character died of an opioid overdose.
“While we wish the very best for the cast and production crew of The Conners, all of whom are deeply dedicated to their craft and were Roseanne’s cherished colleagues, we regret that ABC chose to cancel Roseanne by killing off the Roseanne Conner character. That it was done through an opioid overdose lent an unnecessary grim and morbid dimension to an otherwise happy family show,” Barr said in a statement.
“This was a choice the network did not have to make. Roseanne was the only show on television that directly addressed the deep divisions threatening the very fabric of our society. Specifically, the show promoted the message that love and respect for one another’s personhood should transcend differences in background and ideological discord. The show brought together characters of different political persuasions and ethnic backgrounds in one, unified family, a rarity in modern American entertainment. Above all else, the show celebrated a strong, matriarchal woman in a leading role, something we need more of in our country.”
In May, Barr was fired and the Roseanne revival canceled after she tweeted a racist remark about former Obama adviser Valerie Barrett; a month later, ABC resuscitated the hit series sans Barr and rebranded the show The Conners. The show debuted Tuesday night to respectable, though not blockbuster, ratings, down 35 percent from the Roseanne opener but up 4 percent than the revival’s series finale.
After criticizing her Conners death, Barr’s statement – co-authored by spiritual advisor Rabbi Shmuley Boteach – pivoted toward the ongoing, politics-fueled rift in America and the subject of forgiveness.
“Through humor and a universally relatable main character, the show represented a weekly teaching moment for our nation. Yet it is often following an inexcusable – but not unforgivable – mistake that we can discover the most important lesson of all: Forgiveness,” Barr said. “After repeated and heartfelt apologies, the network was unwilling to look past a regrettable mistake, thereby denying the twin American values of both repentance and forgiveness.”
Barr added in conclusion, “The cancellation of Roseanne is an opportunity squandered due in equal parts to fear, hubris, and a refusal to forgive.”
After The Conners premiered Tuesday night, Barr had a less-restrained response on Twitter to her character’s off-screen demise:
I AIN’T DEAD, BITCHES!!!!
— Roseanne Barr (@therealroseanne) October 17, 2018