Why ABC's Cancellation of Roseanne is so Significant
(Throughout this article, I will only be referring to the show’s revival and not its original run in the 80’s and 90’s.)
On the morning of May 29, 2018, ABC indefinitely cancelled Roseanne following a lewd and racist tweet posted by its star Roseanne Barr. The tweet was directed at a black advisor to President Barack Obama named Valerie Jarrett whom Roseanne made negative implications of being the child of the Muslim Brotherhood and an ape; both descriptions of which were clearly racially-charged. Naturally, sensible people everywhere were outraged by her comment and expressed this on social media outlets; primarily Twitter where the comment was originally made. Not long afterward, Barr apologized and temporarily deactivated her Twitter as some sort of faulty damage control. Finally, this catastrophe was concluded by ABC’s president Channing Dungey (the first black woman to be president of a major broadcasting company) condemning Barr’s statement and announcing the show’s indefinite cancellation.
When Roseanne was first revived in March of 2018, it was ABC’s most-watched premier in 24 years. Its star-studded cast mixed with embedded nostalgia made it a clear winner for the network. However, what urged them to revive this show and not another 80’s or 90’s throwback show? Simply put: Roseanne Barr’s new Republican, radical, and red outlook on life. This pushed the network to do something that is extremely rare during this political climate: broadcast Trump supporters in a positive, affectionate, and heroic light. Republicans are not generally portrayed this way especially on a network like ABC; therefore, ABC presumed that Republicans everywhere would tune in. As risky as it was for the network, this controversial tactic succeeded with flying colors when partnered with a primetime spot on ABC’s comedy lineup preceding heavily non-Republican shows black-ish and The Middle. Although receiving negative feedback from progressives, it did not harm the show nor did it harm the network. Overall, this was a hit for ABC.
So what does ABC’s cancellation of a major television program say about the network and television in general? We are moving closer to a world where morals are more valuable than ratings. ABC could have easily publicly condemned these racist comments and stood by the show regardless. However, they decided to cut the show and risk losing a countless amount viewers and being blacklisted by Republicans everywhere. This bold move is a step in the right direction for all networks to practice these standards and not just when the obscenities are emitted by Republicans. There must be proper punishment for those who decide to use their first amendment right to spew hate and bigotry. We must instill in our society that freedom of speech does not mean freedom of consequence
UPDATE: Roseanne Barr did not deactivate her Twitter; however she did delete the racist tweet and vowed to take a break from social media.