Roseanne Barr isn’t happy about the way her character was killed off on The Conners.
In a statement released after the East Coast premiere of the Roseanne spin-off Tuesday, Barr — together with her “longtime Rabbi and friend, World Values Network Founder Rabbi Shmuley Boteach,” issued a statement regarding the sitcom.
“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,” the statement said. “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,” the statement continued. “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.”
Roseanne’s fate on the comedy wasn’t exactly a surprise. Barr — whose namesake sitcom was canceled last spring after a racist tweet — actually let the cat of the bag in September, revealing her character’s impending demise during an interview on Brandon Straka’s YouTube show Walk Away. “Oh yeah, they killed her,” she told Straka. “They have her die of an opioid overdose.”
The episode, titled “Keep on Trucking,” didn’t specify when Barr’s character kicked the bucket. Instead, the family learns to adjust to life without “Granny Rose,” whom they believe died of a heart attack. It’s not until Roseanne’s sister, Jackie (Laurie Metcalf), receives a call from the coroner that they learn what really led to the death of their beloved matriarch. Though initially in denial, Dan (John Goodman) comes to accept the outcome, since the family begins to find Roseanne’s pills stashed around the house.