ABC execs fired Roseanne and canceled her comeback because they were afraid she would humanize Trump voters, she recently told Joe Rogan.
A few days ago, actress and comedian Roseanne Barr appeared on episode #1359 of The Joe Rogan Experience. Amidst an often incoherent and meandering interview, Roseanne and Rogan had an insightful exchange regarding the canceling of the popular continuation of her sitcom Roseanne in March of last year.
Roseanne, in which she played the titular character, Roseanne Conner, originally aired on ABC from 1988 to 1997. Roseanne was a sharp, take-no-prisoners working class mother who appealed to a wide audience in Middle America. The show’s realistic portrayal of blue collar life won a legion of fans, and when it returned to TV in 2018, its two-part premier drew over 25 million viewers. There was only one problem, Roseanne Barr was an outspoken supporter of President Donald Trump, and so was her character on the show.
Roseanne, who has publicly struggled with mental illness and substance abuse her entire adult life, is no conservative. She grew up with gay siblings, and was one of the first television personalities to feature openly gay characters on her show. She was a member of the Green Party, and in 2012 ran for President as the Peace and Freedom Party candidate. Founded in 1967, the Peace and Freedom Party is dedicated to “feminism, socialism, democracy, ecology, and racial equality.”
Leftists were furious she broke ranks and supported Donald Trump in the 2016 election.
On May 29, 2018, Roseanne gave her detractors the rope to hang her with when she commented on Twitter that Valerie Jarrett, a senior advisor to former President Obama, was like “[the] muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby”. Her comment sparked outrage and ABC responded swiftly by cancelling Roseanne and removing the show from their website. A spinoff, called The Conners, went forward without Roseanne, drawing only 13.65 million viewers in its first episode (which trickled to an average of 9 million).
Many suspected Roseanne’s ouster had more to do with her politics. Her Twitter comment was just the excuse the network needed to pull the plug. Roseanne certainly believes that was the case, and spoke frankly about her suspicions with Joe Rogan on Wednesday.
“The fact that other people on the show didn’t have your political ideology and you would argue with them and fight with them, and it was like real life conflict, like people know in their own homes,” Rogan said. “That relatable aspect of your show was why it was number one so quickly, and why the old show was so great…”
“It’s all because I like Trump,” Roseanne replied, referring to the backlash against her show. “As soon as they heard that, you know, a lot of cabals here in Hollywood, that’s all they needed to hear. Ok, she must be destroyed. And I did hear people say, ‘Oh my God, I’m afraid she’s gonna try to humanize Trump.’ At the network, they said that. And it’s like, what, you mean Trump voters? Is that who you’re afraid is gonna get humanized?”
“That’s half the f—ing country!” Rogan interjected.
Roseanne continued: “I know, it’s such an elitist, out of touch view of humans. It’s always offended me. It’s always offended me that they didn’t like their audience, and I liked the audience because I thought I’m from there, and they’re familiar to me, and I vowed to myself, I’m not going to disrespect the audience.”
Democratic politicians talk about being advocates for the working class, but the blue collar Middle Americans Roseanne speaks of are a shrinking part of the Democratic Party coalition. In the 2016 presidential election, Trump shocked political pundits by flipping Iowa, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan. Trump won the demographic of white voters with no college degree 67 percent to Hillary Clinton’s 28 percent.
Deadline’s Nellie Andreeva pointed out Roseanne’s revival was huge in states Trump handily carried in the election, while performing poorly in New York and Los Angeles, the country’s top markets. It would be strange then (not to mention inauthentic) for Trump voters to be absent from a sitcom geared toward, and popular with, that exact demographic.
That ABC execs were so quick to fire Roseanne despite the massive popularity of her comeback series shows the priority they place on politics over profit. They’re willing to settle with a safe but unpopular spinoff, so long as Roseanne no longer has a platform for airing her unacceptable political views. At a time when we hear so much talk about “representation” in entertainment, why can’t “flyover country” have their own views represented in an honest and non-condescending way?