ABC Entertainment confirmed to media outlets today (May 29) that the network canceled its reboot of “Roseanne” after star Roseanne Barr wrote a racist tweet calling Black former White House advisor and attorney Valerie Jarrett the product of a coupling between the Muslim Brotherhood and “Planet of the Apes.”
ABC News tweeted a statement from ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey about Barr’s racist statement:
ABC Entertainment cancels Roseanne Barr’s show, calling her comment on Twitter “abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values.” https://t.co/2HJA1onFiw [Corrects link] pic.twitter.com/XEdNA8RLft
— ABC News (@ABC) May 29, 2018
An earlier report by The AP quoted the tweet as saying, “muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj” [sic]. The tweet prompted a swift backlash, including writer and consulting producer Wanda Sykes quitting the show. Celebrities ranging from Joe Scarborough to Wilson Cruz to Debra Messing and Don Cheadle took to Twitter to condemn Barr’s racism. Others cited the irony of ABC shelving a “Black-ish” episode about athletes kneeling for the National Anthem.
“Big Sick” star Kumail Nanjiani predicted an ugly backlash to the move:
I’m glad Roseanne is canceled.
The backlash to its cancellation is going to be a deafening nightmare.
Nothing good has come of this entire thing.
— Kumail Nanjiani (@kumailn) May 29, 2018
Today, prior to the cancellation, Barr apologized to Jarrett and ”all Americans” for what she called a “bad joke” about the Black woman’s “politics and her looks.” But the tweet was only the latest discriminatory remark from the Donald Trump-supporting comedian and actress. For instance, CNN Money noted that Barr previously tweeted debunked rumors that George Soros, a philanthropist of Jewish ancestry and frequent target of anti-Semitic vitriol, collaborated with Nazis during the Holocaust. She also used her reboot to take a jab at two other ABC family comedies, “Black-ish” and “Fresh Off the Boat,” and their casts of color.
The original “Roseanne” series was noted for its layered depiction of a White working-class family. The reboot turned the titular character, Roseanne Connor, into an unabashedly racist and Islamophobic Trump supporter.
According to CNN, the Black actress who played Connor’s granddaughter, Emma Kenney, tweeted and then deleted, “I feel so empowered by @iamwandasykes, Channing Dungey and those at ABC standing up against abuse of power and lack of values. Bullies do not win. Ever.”
Deadline reported that the new version debuted to nearly 17.7 million viewers in the coveted 18-49 demographic—the season’s most-watched series debut. The Hollywood Reporter followed that number as it decreased to 10.3 million in the same demographic for the season finale, which aired last Tuesday (May 22).