Warning: There are spoilers ahead for “The Conners.”
“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,” Barr and her Rabbi and friend, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, said in a statement to INSIDER after the episode aired.
“The Conners” premiere initially reveals Roseanne’s death to be due to a heart attack. Later in the episode, an autopsy report shows the Conner matriarch died by overdose. On the “Roseanne” revival earlier this year, Roseanne Conner was struggling with addiction to painkillers for a knee injury.
“That it was done through an opioid overdose lent an unnecessary grim and morbid dimension to an otherwise happy family show,” said Barr and Boteach. “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.”
In the four-paragraph statement, Barr and Boteach address their disappointment in ABC cancelling the “Roseanne” revival. The high-rated show was abruptly canceled in May after Barr compared former Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett to an ape on Twitter. “The Conners” spin-off was announced one month later with the entire cast returning, except Barr.
“The cancellation of ‘Roseanne’ is an opportunity squandered due in equal parts to fear, hubris, and a refusal to forgive,” the statement concludes.
Before “The Conners” aired, Barr previously revealed her character would die by overdose in a September interview.
During a panel at PaleyFest in New York City Tuesday, “The Conners” executive producer Tom Werner told a crowd the decision to kill off Roseanne Conner made sense given last season’s events surrounding her character.
“This was a challenge that Roseanne Conner was dealing with last year, and we felt that this was something that could shine a light on something,” said Werner. “I don’t want to get to heavy, but, I think this was an honest and authentic way of dealing with Roseanne Conner.”
Ahead of the show’s premiere, Barr appeared on Vice News Tonight in a pre-taped interview where said she doesn’t keep in touch with anyone on the spin-off anymore.
“I’ve been removed from the process of my life’s work,” said Barr. “It’s like the worst thing they could have possibly done to me, was to fire me from my own show and let other people write my life story.”
Barr followed that up with a tweet after the premiere concluded regarding her character’s death.
You can read the full statement from Barr and Boteach below:
“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 humour and a universally relatable main character, the showrepresented 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 Conners” airs on ABC Tuesdays at 8 p.m. You can read our review of the premiere here.