Roseanne Barr had a lot to say about being killed off by her former show as The Conners premiered last night.
Barr’s show Roseanne was canceled last May after a racist tweet she launched against former Obama aide Valerie Jarrett, whom she compared to an ape.
Barr also released a lengthy statement with Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, on whose podcasts she often appears:
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 humor and a universally relatable main character, the show represented 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.
Barr had told Shmuley in September that she’ll move to Israel when The Conners premieres.
Said Barr when asked if she would watch the spinoff: “I have an opportunity to go to Israel for a few months and study with my favorite teachers over there. And that’s where I’m going to go and probably move somewhere there and study with my favorite teachers. You know, I have saved a few pennies and I’m so lucky that I can go. It’s my great, great joy and privilege to be a Jewish woman…I’m not going to curse it or bless it. I’m staying neutral. That’s what I do. I’m staying away from it. (Not) wishing bad on anyone, and I don’t wish good for my enemies, you know. I don’t. I can’t. I just stay neutral….I have some mental health issues of depression and stuff. I got to stay in the middle or I’ll go dark, and I don’t want to do dark again. I’ve done it…I don’t do dark anymore.”