Unless you are living under a rock, you already know that ABC pulled the plug on its mega-successful sitcom reboot of "Roseanne" after some politically charged and racist tweets by the star. Bravo to Walt Disney Co. and Channing Dungey, the network’s entertainment president for taking an immediate stance. "Roseanne’s Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel her show," she said.
Congrats to the network, meanwhile, for understanding why it needed to do what it without delay. In today’s complicated world, where the rise of social media gives every American citizen a platform to voice their opinions, there is just no room for a narcissistic rant from someone who should have learned years ago to keep her mouth shut.
On Tuesday, Roseanne Barr sent a tweet out linking Chelsea Clinton to liberal donor George Soros and a racially charged tweet saying former Obama aide Valerie Jarrett, who is African-American and born in Iran, is like the "Muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby."
I apologize to Valerie Jarrett and to all Americans. I am truly sorry for making a bad joke about her politics and her looks. I should have known better. Forgive me-my joke was in bad taste.— Roseanne Barr (@therealroseanne) May 29, 2018
"Roseanne" the sitcom, of course, is the current top-rated entertainment series in primetime, and the key behind the sudden surge in importance of the linear programming platform. Let’s not forget that we are smack in the middle of upfront selling season where a refreshed linear model (thanks in great part to "Roseanne") could translate into added interest from the advertising community. So, the last thing ABC, or any broadcast network, needed was for Ms. Barr to implode, particularly at this very moment.
While Roseanne the individual could survive her crotch-grabbing rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner in the summer of 1990 (and a time when the original "Roseanne" was heading into season two) and all her other "mishegoss" (translation: bullshit) that was a time where there was no social media. And, of course, the political climate was certainly not as tumultuous. So, I say adios Roseanne. You blew your golden comeback and you need to fade into where you belong: oblivion.
But maybe there could also be another option. And, personally, I vote to change the name of "Roseanne" to "The Conner Family" and deal with Dan Conner’s (John Goodman) life as a sudden widower. Didn’t the Roseanne Conner character have knee problems this season? Couldn’t she have died in surgery? Or maybe the coast of health insurance kept her off the operating table and complications arose. There are plenty of scenarios.
Putting my TV historian hat on, NBC was home to a sitcom beginning in 1986 called "Valerie," starring Valerie Harper as a wife and mother of three boys. An immediate hit in the traditional Nielsen ratings, NBC renewed the series for a second year and was anticipating more than enough episodes for off-network syndication. When Harper got into a dispute with the producers and was fired at the end of season two, the series was re-titled "Valerie’s Family" (and, ultimately "The Hogan Family") with new cast addition Sandy Duncan as Aunt Sandy. It lasted another four seasons without Valerie Harper.
More recent was the departure of Charlie Sheen from CBS sitcom "Two and a Half Men" after eight seasons in 2011 as a result of his ongoing bizarre behavior. Enter Ashton Kutcher the following fall and another four seasons for "Two and a Half Men." It was far from over without Sheen.
Of course, not every series can survive without its central character. Remember "Chico and the Man" without Freddie Prinze after his suicide in 1977 or than dreadful continuation of "Sanford and Son" as "The Sanford Arms" minus Redd Foxx? How about "8 Simple Rules" without John Ritter?
Then there is the possibility of Roseanne the producer still having a financial stake in the series. Could ABC really do it without her? And would they really want to if that were the case? Remember, as big a hit as "Roseanne" was this season, there were only 13 episodes ordered for next season.
Since the focus on this first season of the "Roseanne" reboot was really on Sara Gilbert as Darlene, now with her own surly teenage girl and a young son who likes to wear dresses, life for the Conners could certainly go on. John Goodman and Laurie Metcalf could also carry the series. And, in an ironic twist, maybe consulting producer Wanda Sykes (who quit following Roseanne’s Twitter outburst) could join the family as the other grandmother of DJ’s (Michael Fishman) young daughter Mary (Jayden Ray).
While there are a lot of "ifs" in this scenario, there is one thing I do know. If "Roseanne" becomes "The Conner Family," I foresee a record number of viewers tuning (at least initially). They certainly did after Ashton Kutcher’s first appearance on "Two and a Half Men" (just under 28-million viewers on Sept. 19. 2011). And they certainly will for like without Roseanne Conner. Wouldn’t you, after all, want to be one of those people?