Roseanne has officially moved on from Roseanne.
In Tuesday’s series (?) premiere of The Conners, it was revealed that family matriarch Roseanne had died of an opioid overdose (and not because she ate a leftover Loose Meat Sandwich from the Lanford Lunchbox, as some predicted). It was an in-show explanation for ABC canceling Roseanne, the highest-rated show of last season, following “abhorrent” and “repugnant” remarks made by star Roseanne Barr. Her response to the episode: “I AIN’T DEAD, BITCHES!!!”
Barr (and her spiritual advisor, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach) also issued a more, uh, thoughtful statement to The Conners on Facebook. “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,” she wrote. “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.”
Hey, it could have been worse for Barr.