Roseanne Barr apparently watched the series premiere of The Conners and responded to her character's on-screen death off yesterday. Although the Roseanne revival was a huge ratings draw for ABC, second only to This Is Us, Barr was fired after posting a tweet comparing former White House aide Valerie Jarrett to an ape. Barr's on-screen husband for ten season Dan, played by John Goodman, has since lead the Conner family into the spinoff without her.
The Conners set up the death of its matriach from a drug overdose, since it was revealed in the revival the she had developed a pain killer addiction. As with sudden main character deaths like Shannen Doherty's in Charmed or Tim Daly's in Private Practice, the story picks up after the actor's departure to examine how the remaining cast is handling the loss. The Conners premiere wrote an interesting commentary about inflated prescription prices by revealing that Roseanne was sharing pills with her neighbor due to the affordability of her own medication. In advance of the premiere, Goodman came out to express disappointment for the exit of his costar, as well as gratitude that ABC is continuing the Conners' story. Although The Conners achieved a solid initial ratings performance, its premiere was about 35% down compared to the Roseanne premiere that aired last fall.
Taking to Twitter once again, Roseanne reminded fans that while her character is dead, she is not (see below). Her nearly 1 million follower base appears to be behind her, with the post attaining over 25,000 retweets and over 100,000 likes.
The actor and her spiritual adviser released an additional statement on Facebook detailing her well-wishes to the cast and ongoing frustration with Roseanne's cancellation. Despite her remorse for the offending tweet, she pointed to ABCs unwillingness to forgive her wrongdoings as part of what she feels is a problem with militant political ideology overshadowing a goal to be compassionate:
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. 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. In a hyper-partisan climate, people will sometimes make the mistake of speaking with words that do not truly reflect who they are. However, it is the power of forgiveness that defines our humanity.
Some fans and viewers have backed Barr's outrage over cancelling a show that was attempting to have conversations about political divisiveness. Roseanne was, after all, originally a series about a working class family that cordially welcomed anyone looking for community into their circle, and seeing a woman taking on the primary leadership role of the clan was progressive for the sitcom formula, at the time. However, many have criticized the revival as being tone deaf to issues of representation of marginalized people. One of the most controversial moments from the show's revival involved Dan and Roseanne waking up on the coach in front of the TV, remarking that they missed all the family shows about people of color, and quipping that its fine, because they're "just like us." Roseanne's intention may have been to bring people together to discuss solutions to cultural clashing, but the lack of representation of non-white groups and families on television has been a gap that's only recently begun to see some resolution, thanks to shows like Fresh Off The Boat, Black-Ish, and Kim's Convenience. While Roseanne hasn't responded very receptively to concerns with her approach, The Conners has its own direction to go in, and whether or not she supports it remains to be seen.