American television star Roseanne Barr’s racist tweet about former White House adviser Valerie Jarrett has cost her the television show named after her. On Tuesday, the Disney-owned company ABC Entertainment cancelled Roseanne despite the show posting high ratings since its comeback in March.
Early on Tuesday, Barr, who is the show’s main writer and executive producer, had put out an offensive tweet about Jarrett, who worked with former president Barack Omaba: Muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj.” Barr later deleted the tweet and issued an apology, saying, “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.” Barr also declared that she was leaving Twitter.
In a statement, 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.” The show had been recently revived for a second season.
“Axing the Roseanne revival was no small decision for ABC,” The Hollywood Reporter said. “The rebooted comedy debuted its nine-episode run midseason and finished as the TV season’s No. 1 scripted series on all of broadcast. Roseanne had been averaging a 5.5 rating among adults 18-49 and 19.3 million viewers with live-plus-three day lifts. With a full week of time-shifting, those numbers climbed to a 6.4 rating in the key demo and 22.1 million viewers. Either way, Roseanne was the highest-rated and most-watched series of the broadcast season, eclipsing NBC’s This Is Us and CBS’ Big Bang Theory — which had been in a heated battle for top status.”
The first casualty of the controversy was consultant Wanda Sykes, who said that she would not be returning after Barr’s offensive tweet.
“ABC had plenty of reason to believe this latest controversy will be a distant memory in four months — particularly given the modern news cycle, and a world where every day the White House is behind another new controversy,” Indiewire commented. “It’s still May, after all, and there will be many more scandals before the fall TV season launches. Instead, ABC sent a statement that it wouldn’t tolerate such language and hate from its key star. And it’s a sign that the network realized that it would face protests and perhaps advertising boycotts in the coming months if the show kept going. ABC had planned to showcase the show at an Emmy press event this weekend, for example, and it wouldn’t have been able to avoid questions about its star and the fate of the show.”
Barr had previously compared former national security advisor Susan Rice, who is an African American like Jarrett, to an ape in 2013. “Barr also regularly spreads debunked conspiracy theories and rumors on her Twitter feed,” Indiewire said. “Now, the Alphabet network sent a message to the ‘Roseanne’ star and all talent that actions have consequences.”