The makers of Ambien say racism is not a side effect after Roseanne Barr claimed the sleep drug was responsible for the Twitter rant that led to the cancellation of her show Roseanne. In March, Roseanne returned to ABC after a 20 year absence and was immediately embraced by audiences. Ratings were so huge that ABC raced to renew the revival for a second season.
But that all came crashing down after star Roseanne Barr, whose tendency to say and do controversial things has always been well-known, went on a racist Twitter tirade in which she compared former Barack Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett to a character from Planet of the Apes. ABC moved swiftly to cancel Roseanne as outraged reactions to Barr's tweets flooded in from all quarters. Roseanne herself tried to apologize initially, while promising to leave Twitter, but later struck a much more defiant note.
In another tweet that she would later go on to delete, an apparently regretful Barr attempted to blame her self-destructive racist rant on the popular sleep drug Ambien. This prompted a swift response from Sonofi, the company that makes Ambien, who said in a statement (via USA Today):
"While all pharmaceutical treatments have side effects, racism is not a known side effect of any Sanofi medication."
American Addiction Centers lists among the known side effects of Ambien "aggression," "confusion," "disorientation" and "emotional blunting." As part of her defiant response to ABC's move to cancel Roseanne, Barr tweeted out supportive statements from her fans under the hashtag #StandByRoseanne. Hollywood itself has been much less supportive of Barr, and that includes her fellow Roseanne cast members and writers, many of whom released their own statements condemning Barr's racist tweets.
In its original incarnation, Roseanne was known as a fairly progressive show that depicted its working-class characters as open-minded and willing to embrace people of differing backgrounds. But the revival received criticism for changing its tone by making the Conners Trump supporters, and for derisive jokes about the diversity of today's television, particularly the ABC schedule which features shows like black-ish and Fresh Off the Boat. Nevertheless, Roseanne did try to embrace diversity at times with storylines about Darlene's gender non-conforming son Mark and the Conners' Muslim neighbors. However, some argued these attempts at open-mindedness fell flat in the face of Barr's own stated political affinities.
At one point, ABC exec Channing Dungey stated publicly that Roseanne would dial back on politics in season 2. So clearly the network was already uncomfortable with some of the show's political content even before Barr torpedoed the series with her tweets.
Source: USA Today