National Post (Latest Edition)

THE CHATTER

Roseanne’s ship was sinking long before this week’s social media sins

- SADAF AHSAN

Part of the Roseanne Barr brand has always been to spout off with the most controvers­ial thing that enters her mind. Even with the resuscitat­ion of her ABC sitcom Roseanne, the weapon most often used to unleash her opinions on the world – whether advocating for Pizzagate, suggesting 9/11 was an inside job, voicing vaccine-related conspiracy theories, referring to Israel as a “Nazi state,” or promoting a Holocaust denying musician (as she did in 2013) – has remained Twitter.

On Tuesday, Barr struck a nerve yet again when she published a racist tweet regarding Barack Obama’s former White House adviser, Valerie Jarrett, who was born in Iran to African-American parents. In response to another tweet accusing Jarrett of hiding Obama Administra­tion secrets, Barr said that Jarrett is a product of the Muslim Brotherhoo­d and The Planet of the Apes.

ABC quickly announced that the network would officially be cancelling her highly successful series. “Roseanne’s Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsiste­nt with our values, and we have decided to cancel her show,” ABC Entertainm­ent president Channing Dungey said in a statement.

The sitcom was revived by the network after two decades, bringing back the entire original cast and many of the original writers. It premiered in March to record-breaking ratings, scoring over 18-million viewers with its premiere, before dipping to about 10 million by season’s end, but still remaining the No. 1 scripted primetime television series in the 18-49 demo.

Earlier on Tuesday, Barr also targeted Chelsea Clinton, calling her “Chelsea Soros Clinton,” and suggesting in another tweet that the former first daughter is in cahoots with liberal businessma­n George Soros because she allegedly married his nephew.

Clinton responded, writing, “Good morning Roseanne – my given middle name is Victoria. I imagine George Soros’s nephews are lovely people. I’m just not married to one.”

Barr replied, saying, “Sorry to have tweeted incorrect info about you! I Please forgive me! By the way, George Soros is a nazi who turned in his fellow Jews 2 be murdered in German concentrat­ion camps & stole their wealth-were you aware of that? But, we all make mistakes, right Chelsea?”

Even before ABC responded by cancelling Roseanne, fellow comic (and a consulting producer on the series) Wanda Sykes tweeted that she would not be returning to the show, while co-star and producer Sara Gilbert, who facilitate­d Roseanne’s revival at ABC, tweeted, “Roseanne’s recent comments about Valerie Jarrett, and so much more, are abhorrent and do not reflect the beliefs of our cast and crew or anyone associated with our show. I am disappoint­ed in her actions to say the least.”

In response to Gilbert’s comments, the comedian tweeted, “Wow! unreal.”

Later, Barr issued a second apology on her Twitter, this time to the hundreds of people on the Roseanne crew who have now lost their jobs, saying she was “ambien tweeting” and “went 2 far.” Barr, however, then continued to go after her Roseanne co-stars who had voiced their “disappoint­ment,” including Michael Fishman, who plays her son D.J. Connor. Fishman had tweeted, “Today is one of the hardest in my life. I feel devastated, not for the end of the Roseanne show, but for all those who poured their hearts and souls into our jobs, and the audience that welcomed us into their homes.” He added, “I condemn these statements vehemently” and that her thoughts do not reflect his own “inclusive” views. Barr lashed back early Wednesday, replying, “i created the platform for that inclusivit­y and you know it. ME. You throw me under the bus. nice!”

ABC and her co-stars are not the only ones abandoning ship. Media company Viacom announced Tuesday evening that it would be pulling reruns of the original sitcom immediatel­y from all of its outlets, including CMT, TV Land and the Paramount Network, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Streaming network Hulu also announced that it will be pulling Roseanne from its service in support of ABC, which also scrapped its “For Your Considerat­ion” Emmy campaign for the series.

Barr was also dropped by her talent agency, ICM Partners, shortly after ABC’s announceme­nt.

It’s a strange developmen­t in that while the mass exodus from Roseanne’s sinking ship might feel sudden, it’s not the least bit surprising. Perhaps the lesson to be learned here is that if one chooses to travel aboard a rickety boat, then one must always remain near a life raft.

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