Despite it being the highest ratings scripted show on broadcast TV, ABC didn't hesitate to cancel Roseanne after the star of the show, Roseanne Barr, posted a racist tweet.
In a tweet, Barr lashed out at former Obama administration official Valerie Jarrett and compared the black woman to "an ape." The reaction on Twitter was swift, with celebrities calling for her to be fired and comedian Wanda Sykes, one of the writers on the show, stepping down from her role. Barr apologized, calling it the tweet "joke" and admitting it was "in bad taste."
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.
— Roseanne Barr (@therealroseanne) May 29, 2018
However, the damage was already done. In a statement released to the press, ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey said "Roseanne's Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel her show."
ABC is owned by Walt Disney Co. Its CEO, Bob Iger, also weighed in on the decision to cancel the reboot:
From Channing Dungey, President of ABC Entertainment: "Roseanne's Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel her show."
There was only one thing to do here, and that was the right thing.
— Robert Iger (@RobertIger) May 29, 2018
The cancellation comes as a surprise, as Barr has never shied away from posting eyebrow-raising tweets and speaking publicly about conspiracy theories and her support of President Trump. The reboot, which successfully ended its first season last week, was a ratings bonazana for ABC. Its season premiere drew 18.5 million same-day viewers, and was seen by more people than this year's Oscars after DVR and streaming ratings were taken into account. Roseanne was the No. 1 show on all of broadcast networks, both in total viewers and in the advertiser-coveted adults 18-49 demo. The writers were scheduled to begin work on the upcoming season today.
Before the cancellation announcement, costar Sara Gilbert condemned Barr's tweet:
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.
— sara gilbert (@THEsaragilbert) May 29, 2018
Following the announcement, Gilbert tweeted:
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.
— sara gilbert (@THEsaragilbert) May 29, 2018
Celebrities were quick to take to Twitter to celebrate the cancellation news:
I just heard #rosanne is cancelled. My reaction— tears. I am so relieved and grateful. The hate that has been spewing from those in Trump’s orbit has really taken a toll on all of our souls and psyches. I didn’t believe it would happen. I had lost faith. Thank you @abc .
— Debra Messing (@DebraMessing) May 29, 2018
I’m glad that @ABCNetwork took a stand. We as a country can and will be better. More welcoming, more inclusive. We reach so many people in the entertainment industry. We can be a voice for good.
We can, and will, become once again that beacon on a hill.
— Aisha Tyler (@aishatyler) May 29, 2018
I'm glad Roseanne is canceled.
The backlash to its cancellation is going to be a deafening nightmare.
Nothing good has come of this entire thing.
— Kumail Nanjiani (@kumailn) May 29, 2018
But honestly she got what she deserved. As I tell my 4 year old, one makes a choice with one’s actions. Roseanne made a choice. A racist one. ABC made a choice. A human one.
— shonda rhimes (@shondarhimes) May 29, 2018
Important clarification needed for some:
Free Speech allows you to say whatever you want in your own life. It does not allow you to say dumbass shit and work for Disney.
— Zach Braff (@zachbraff) May 29, 2018
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) May 29, 2018
As I called my manager to quit working on Roseanne, I was told it was cancelled. I feel so empowered by @iamwandasykes , Channing Dungey and anyone at ABC standing up for morals and abuse of power. Bullies will NEVER win.
— Emma Kenney (@EmmaRoseKenney) May 29, 2018
Suddenly ABC developed values this morning? They knew who and what they bought with Roseanne, just as they know what they’re doing with The Bachelor franchise. https://t.co/vrS9RatxRt
— Andy Dehnart (@realityblurred) May 29, 2018
@therealroseanne, you break my heart -- You are a sorry excuse for a human being. How odd that you, as a comedienne, have forgotten then meaning of a "joke" and a personal comment. Your meanness is staggering and will earn you a ticket to a sad, lonely and sorry life.
— Rita Moreno (@TheRitaMoreno) May 29, 2018
Excited for the literally anything else that Laurie Metcalf and John Goodman will do now
— Joss Whedon (@joss) May 29, 2018
— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) May 29, 2018
#FireRoseanne and fuck your nostalgia. Go work on Mad About You if you're so damn nostalgic.
— billy eichner (@billyeichner) May 29, 2018