Editorial: ABC prioritized views over values with ‘Roseanne’ revival

Roseanne Barr and John Goodman in "Roseanne." ABC cancelled the show after Barr tweeted “abhorrent" racist comments about former Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett. (Photo courtesy of Adam Rose/ABC)

The revival of working-class sitcom “Roseanne” was cut short Tuesday after two months on ABC — and unlike “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” it probably won’t be picked up by another network after the creator and star of the sitcom, Roseanne Barr, compared black former White House aide Valerie Jarrett to an ape on Twitter Monday night.

ABC responded swiftly, canceling the show hours after the now-deleted tweet was posted — but the show should never have been revived in the first place. The poorly executed reboot of the once-beloved show proves the new “Roseanne” was merely meant to cater to Trump supporters at the expense of marginalized communities, and proves ABC doesn’t care about good, diverse content — it cares about viewership.

The new “Roseanne” wasn’t just out of touch with liberals — it was out of touch with itself, in both plot and style. Plot holes like unexplained pregnancies and a reversed death littered the reboot, and showed a callous disregard for the series itself. “Roseanne” wasn’t rebooted for Roseanne’s sake — it was just for the numbers.

And unlike the original, the revival refused to discuss many real issues. The original “Roseanne” jumped headfirst into topics like abortion, gay rights and race. But in the revival, Trump’s name is never even mentioned — the president is referred to symbolically as “he.” Political aspects of characters, such as the skirt-wearing grandson’s refusal to conform to gender norms, are often treated as quirks — and even more often, made the butt of jokes.

The show simply brushed on controversial topics without fully incorporating them into the storyline, making ABC look like it didn’t care if the revival remained true to what originally made it iconic — as long as people were watching.

And as for Barr herself, her mere presence as an ABC network creator contradicts ABC’s commitment to diversity. She has a history of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, having tweeted about “Islamic pedo culture” in 2013 and “Jewish mind control” in 2012. Allowing someone who has made bigoted statements in the past to run a show on the same network as programs such as “Black-ish” and “Fresh Off the Boatshows a disregard for the portrayal of minority experiences in America that ABC claims to respect.

ABC picked up Barr’s show in the hopes it would tap into an underrepresented conservative demographic  — and it did, garnering 23 million views for the first episode. But while Barr portrays a sympathetic Trump supporter on television, supporting her biracial granddaughter and trying to get along with her liberal sister, she’s known for spreading offensive and misleading conspiracy theories online about Democrats and Trump opponents.

Barr spread a theory on Twitter that one of the survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas school shooting gave a Nazi salute at March for Our Lives. And only a few hours before insulting Valerie Jarrett, she accused progressive philanthropist George Soros — who survived the German occupation of Hungary —  of being a Nazi who turned Jews over to be murdered in concentration camps. This side of Trumpism is something ABC should have seen coming.

“Roseanne” was one of the most popular sitcoms in America during its original run, making the American working class feel truly represented. But ABC’s decision to revive it as a badly remade sitcom for Trump supporters — while fully aware of its creator’s reputation — was a foolish move and proves how superficial many of its other programs are.

 

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