Roseanne Barr has long been a controversial and vocal person, but she undoubtedly was the backbone of the groundbreaking “Roseanne” TV show in the late ‘80s and ‘90s that combined humor with a serious look at the struggles of a working-class American family.
After the hugely popular debut of the “Roseanne” reboot earlier this year, where Barr played a Trump-supporting character, she made some controversial remarks on social media and was very quickly fired.
Then the sitcom was rebooted again, premiering on Tuesday as “The Conners,” notably eliminating Roseanne’s name and character. But the show creators didn’t simply write her out of the script. They decided to kill her off in a way that has Barr firing back at the show with both barrels.
On Tuesday, Barr released a statement via the Facebook page of her good friend Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, who previously defended her on “The View” and said Barr should be forgiven because she has profusely apologized for her offensive comments.
Together, Boteach and Barr wrote the following:
“While we wish the very best for the cast and production crew of The Conners, all of whom are deeply dedicated to their craft and were Roseanne’s cherished colleagues, we regret that ABC chose to cancel Roseanne by killing off the Roseanne Conner character. That it was done through an opioid overdose lent an unnecessary grim and morbid dimension to an otherwise happy family show.
“This was a choice the network did not have to make. Roseanne was the only show on television that directly addressed the deep divisions threatening the very fabric of our society. Specifically, the show promoted the message that love and respect for one another’s personhood should transcend differences in background and ideological discord. The show brought together characters of different political persuasions and ethnic backgrounds in one, unified family, a rarity in modern American entertainment. Above all else, the show celebrated a strong, matriarchal woman in a leading role, something we need more of in our country.
“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.
“Our society needs to heal on many levels. What better way for healing than a shared moment, once a week, where we could have all enjoyed a compelling storyline featuring a witty character — a woman — who America connected with, not in spite of her flaws, but because of them. The cancellation of Roseanne is an opportunity squandered due in equal parts to fear, hubris, and a refusal to forgive.”
The offensive comment that got Barr fired was along the lines of calling President Obama’s former aide Valerie Jarrett a Muslim ape. She later claimed that she didn’t realize Jarrett was black. Barr repeatedly and tearfully apologized on national TV but was not rehired.
Fans of the “Roseanne” show reacted strongly to how Barr’s character died from a prescription pain pill addiction and overdose in “The Connors”: