Though Roseanne and its pseudo-sequel The Conners are both comedies, events surrounding the linked TV series have become a political drama. After the controversial off-screen death of Roseanne Conner was revealed in the debut episode of The Conners on Tuesday night, Roseanne Barr issued a scathing condemnation of the plot decision and enlisted a religious leader to back her up.
Late on Tuesday after The Conners had aired, Rubenstein Public Relations contacted members of the press with a lengthy official statement from Barr commenting on how her character died in the first episode of the new show. Specifically, Barr objected to the decision for her alter-ego to be killed because of an opioid addiction, saying the fictional event was “grim and morbid.”
Barr released this statement in conjunction with Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, who represents the World Values Network, a non-profit organization whose official mission statement is to “disseminate universal Jewish values in politics, culture, and media, making the Jewish people a light unto the nations.” It is not entirely clear why Barr decided to release her statement in conjunction with the World Values Network, but what is clear is that she believes the notion of forgiveness should be on everyone’s mind. After touting the relevance of a show that “celebrated a strong, matriarchal woman in a leading role,” Barr’s statement doubles-down on the idea that she regrets her racist Tweets, and feels like she should have been given a second chance. The statement reads:
“…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.”
So far, the projections for ratings for the first episode of The Conners were expected to be high, just not as high as the 18 million who tuned in to watch the rebooted Roseanne in 2017. At present, no one from ABC or the show has responded to Barr’s criticism of her alter-ego’s death.