Days after canceling the highly rated Roseanne revival in the wake of star Roseanne Barr's racist Twitter outburst, ABC is reportedly considering keeping the property alive with a spinoff starring Sara Gilbert's Darlene. In March, Roseanne returned triumphantly to television with a premiere episode that posted huge ratings, reestablishing the show as an audience favorite and returning Roseanne Barr to stardom.
But now just months later, the story has turned from triumph to bitterness, as ABC was forced to cancel the sitcom after Barr went on a Twitter tirade in which she took a racist jab at former Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett. Barr later attempted to apologize, then struck a defiant note by going on the offensive against fellow former Roseanne cast members who criticized her for her remarks. One out-spoken member of the cast, Darlene actress and show producer Sara Gilbert, was especially critical of Barr and her incendiary Twitter remarks.
Now, with Roseanne canceled and ABC looking at a big hole in their fall schedule, the network could be looking to salvage something from the whole mess while doing right by the cast and crew members who lost jobs thanks to Barr's tweets. According to TVLine, ABC is at least considering filling the Roseanne hole with a spinoff show that would center on Sara Gilbert's Darlene Conner. Not only did Gilbert shine on the new show as an older Darlene, she also was one of the driving forces behind getting the revival together in the first place.
Always one of Roseanne's most complex characters, Darlene grew on the original show from a sarcastic pre-teen to a sullen adolescent to a smart young woman who was often the only one in the family capable of going toe-to-toe with Roseanne and living to tell the tale. The revival depicted Darlene as a single mom - her husband David (Johnny Galecki) showed up for only a brief appearance in the new season - raising a rebellious teen daughter (Emma Kenney) and a gender non-conforming son (Ames McNamara). Arguably the season's best episode saw Darlene and her sister Becky (Lecy Goranson) remembering Becky's late husband Mark, the name-sake of Darlene's own son Mark, and lamenting the course of their lives.
Building a spinoff show around the character of Darlene, whose own struggles arguably could make compelling and funny TV on their own, would help ABC in multiple ways. One, it would immediately fill the hole in their schedule left by Roseanne's cancellation. Two, it would allow ABC to continue employing the many people who would otherwise be out of work thanks to Roseanne Barr's Twitter habits. However, there is one arguable downside to the idea: Since Roseanne Barr is still one of the show's creators and holds rights over the property, bringing back any characters from the series would only result in Barr making more money.
Does ABC really want to help line Barr's pockets after all the controversy she caused? Certainly, this is a tricky situation for ABC. But they apparently are at least considering going ahead with a show that would keep the Roseanne spirit alive, but without the radioactive Roseanne Barr herself actually involved.