UPDATE: Roseanne has been cancelled by ABC.
In the wake of a racist remark on Twitter by series creator Roseanne Barr, many are now calling for the cancellation or suspension of the series Roseanne and a boycott of the show's sponsors. Numerous hashtags are spreading on social media, with #SuspendRoseanneNow having emerged as the most popular.
One of the most popular family situation comedies of all time, Roseanne recently saw a revival some 21 years after its original run ended in 1997. The new series continued the adventures of the Conner clan in the fictional town of Lanford, Illinois, though with a greater emphasis on modern American politics and family matriarch Roseanne Conner being portrayed as an outspoken supporter of U.S. President Donald Trump. Though the new series' first episode scored the highest ratings of any sitcom in three years, it also lost most of its audience as the season went on. It also drew criticism for directly mocking other sitcoms that attempted to present more diverse representations of American families.
The original remark has been deleted from Barr's Twitter account, but it involved a physical comparison of attorney Valerie Jarrett, Former Senior Adviser to President Barack Obama, to a character from Planet of the Apes. Since deleting the original tweet, Barr delivered a brief apology and said she was leaving Twitter. Five minutes later, she posted a more in-depth apology.
I apologize. I am now leaving Twitter.— Roseanne Barr (@therealroseanne) May 29, 2018
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
Response to the original remarks has been swift, beyond even the #SuspendRoseanneNow hashtag and calls for a boycott of ABC's sponsors. Wanda Sykes, a popular comedian who served as a Consulting Producer on Roseanne, has announced via her Twitter account that she will not be returning to the revival series for season 2.
Sykes is presuming that Roseanne will still be receiving a second season, despite the vast public outcry against Barr's racist remark. While ABC ordered a second season of Roseanne just two days after the first episode of the revival series aired, there is mounting evidence that the new series' popularity was a short-lived phenomenon and that the nostalgic shine of the original show wore off quickly. Roseanne has seen its ratings drop steadily over the course of its first season, with its season finale only attracting 10.3 million viewers. This marks a significant drop-off of nearly half the viewership from the 18.44 million who watched the premiere.
It remains to be seen how ABC will respond to the public outcry against Roseanne. The only certainty in the face of the #SuspendRoseanneNow movement is that the controversy around Barr is unlikely to go away quietly anytime soon.