In the wake of Roseanne Barr’s racist tweet, and the resulting cancellation of the Roseanne reboot, there have been a few common responses. One of them is simple: Barr’s public support of false conspiracy theories such as Pizzagate (which claimed Hillary Clinton was running a child sex slavery ring out of the basement of a DC pizza restaurant and which nearly got people killed), among other things, made people wonder why ABC was willing to risk it. And the showrunner for ABC’s Black-ish, Kenya Barris, bore down hard on this particular point.
Barris and ABC already have a contentious relationship: ABC won’t air an episode of Black-ish discussing the kneeling protests the NFL is so keen to shut down, and Netflix is attempting to recruit Barris. Speaking at a panel hosted by Variety, Barris laid out that he was about to quit over Barr’s tweet, stating:
“I was literally coming out of the show and I was like f*ck this. I was going to go crazy. I was going to call my agent and go on Don Lemon and other shows…You hired a monster and then you asked why the monster was killing villagers.”
It turns out Barris made his call around the same time as ABC head Channing Dungey was canceling Roseanne, thus heading off what might have been an even uglier PR disaster for the network. But Barris has a point. Barr had been repeatedly criticized for her behavior on social media and even back in the day, had repeated clashes with ABC and internal turnover problems as writers and showrunners repeatedly quit. In fact, right before Barr compared a Black woman to an ape, she insisted George Soros, a man who was a preteen during World War II, had a role in the Holocaust. Why ABC thought this time would be different is an open question.