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Reboots, Retweets, And Roseanne's Quick Cancellation

Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

The reboot of the ABC sitcom “Roseanne” was always controversial. The original was, too.

During the show’s first run, its creator, star and namesake, Roseanne Barr, riled critics with her brash public statements and surprising rendition of the national anthem.

Despite that, the show was praised for its sensitive portrayal of a white, working-class Midwestern family. But the reboot was different. In the years since the original went off the air, Barr had changed. She was still provocative, but her provocations involved running for office, tweeting conspiracy theories and supporting President Donald Trump.

When the reboot launched, Roseanne the character, like Roseanne the person, also supported the president. And when the show drew huge ratings, the president returned that support.

The reboot wasn’t explicitly about politics, largely eschewing direct discussion of the president. For some fans, it was an exercise in separating art from the artist. For others, it was a look into a life that was a lot like their own. ABC announced a second season.

Then Roseanne tweeted something that went beyond a provocation. “muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj” she wrote, referencing former Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett. Soon after, the show was canceled, with little equivocation over just what the statement was.

— Fox News (@FoxNews) May 29, 2018

Roseanne’s castmate joined in.

— sara gilbert (@THEsaragilbert) May 29, 2018

The cancelation comes as TV networks are rethinking who they want to reach and how they want to reach them. ABC’s lineup had grown less white in the years since the original Roseanne ended (the reboot even poked fun at this with a joke about the shows “Fresh Off the Boat” and “Black-ish”), though the network declined to air an episode of “Black-ish” about kneeling athletes. Meanwhile, Fox picked up Tim Allen’s “Last Man Standing,” a previously canceled show that had become a paean for those who reviled “PC culture” and longed for a time when men were men.

The TV screen reflects the culture wars, but it also amplifies them. With the latest cancelation, what do we see?


Jeffrey Jones, Professor of entertainment and media studies at the University of Georgia; director of the Peabody Awards; author of “Entertaining Politics”; @drjeffreypjones

Wynter Mitchell, Content and influencer strategist, Pablo Jobs; host, Pop Rocket podcast; @wyntermitchell

Eric Deggans, TV critic, NPR; @Deggans

Robby Soave, Associate editor, Reason Magazine

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