On Tuesday evening, “The Connors” premiered on ABC, and we finally learned how the network would kill off Roseanne Barr’s character: by accidental opioid overdose. But, it wasn’t long until fans of “Roseanne” hit ABC with some very bad news.
Back in May, ABC made the decision to remove Roseanne Barr from her hit show after she posted on Twitter, saying former Obama aide Valerie Jarrett looked like the offspring of the “Muslim Brotherhood & Planet of the Apes.” Jarrett, who is black, was born in Iran to American parents, of which Barr claimed to be unaware.
“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.
Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger voiced his support for the cancellation, tweeting, “There was only one thing to do here, and that was the right thing.”
Barr deleted her tweet about Jarrett not long after posting it. She followed it up with an apology that read, “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. I am now leaving Twitter.” [Source: Variety]
On Tuesday night, “The Connors” premiered without Barr. Now, the ratings are in, and as many expected, the new series just doesn’t command the same audience as Roseanne’s hit show once did. “The Conners” was down a humiliating 35% in viewership from the premiere of the “Roseanne” reboot one year ago:
While no one really expected The Conners to hit the massive debut that the return of Roseanne had on March 27 after nearly 20 years off the air, the spinoff was barely ahead of the revival’s May 22 finale, at least in the early metrics. That “Knee Deep” finale episode came mere days before Barr’s racist online attack on former Barack Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett, and even by then the already renewed series had seen a double digit decline from the Season 10 opener. Which is to say, the finale was a reasonable benchmark for The Conners to reach.
Down 35% from the Roseanne opener, the debut of The Conners was just 4% better than the mothership series finale in metered market numbers. In fact, despite a massive marketing push, The Conners wasn’t even the highest rated show of Tuesday night. Though The Conners was ahead of This Is Us by 22% in the early numbers, it was the fourth episode of the 16th season of CBS’ NCIS that topped the night with a 8.1/13 in metered market results. [Source: Deadline]
ABC executives can only expect the ratings for “The Conners” to go down from here, as many fans were appalled to see how callously the show killed off the character of Roseanne Conner by way of an opioid overdose. The character of Roseanne had been beloved by audiences for decades, so to get rid of her this way left a bad taste in the mouths of many.
Barr and her longtime Rabbi and friend, World Values Network Founder Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, issued a statement on the ordeal. “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,” they said.
“This was a choice the network did not have to make,” they added. “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 statement continued.
“The show brought together characters of different political persuasions and ethnic backgrounds in one, unified family, a rarity in modern American entertainment,” stated Barr and Shmuley. “Above all else, the show celebrated a strong, matriarchal woman in a leading role, something we need more of in our country.”
They may have killed off the character of Roseanne, but it will be “The Connors” who now struggle to survive without Roseanne Barr. Perhaps they’ll learn something about rushing to judgment and making a knee-jerk decision. Others who have done worse were always given the chance to apologize. Had they afforded Barr the same courtesy, everyone would be better off.