“Only question is whether [ABC] will air the Roseanne episodes that are already in the can or not,” sniffs Dan Foster. Nah, cmon. Two years ago this would have been a no-platforming offense. Two years later there’s too much on the line for ABC.
That was part of a longer rant that included accusing Chelsea Clinton of being in bed with the Soros family (literally!), accusing Soros himself of being a “nazi who turned in his fellow Jews 2 be murdered in German concentration camps & stole their wealth,” and of course an obligatory retweet about QAnon. One journalist, taking it all in, tweeted — unfairly — “Roseanne’s network wanted to showcase the average Trump voter. And that’s exactly what they got.” Lefties are now calling on ABC to dump her. Is she done?
Before we consider that, how are those ratings doing? Pretty well, actually:
Roseanne has been averaging a 5.5 rating among adults 18-49 and 19.3 million viewers with live-plus-three day lifts. With a full week of time-shifting, those numbers climb to a 6.4 rating in the key demo and 22.1 million viewers. Either way, Roseanne is the highest-rated and most-watched series of the broadcast season, eclipsing NBC’s This Is Us and CBS’ Big Bang Theory — which had been in a heated battle for top status.
Once multiplatform data is factored in, expect to hear even bigger numbers come out of ABC. Entertainment president Channing Dungey told ad buyers at the network’s annual upfront that a staggering one in 10 Americans has already watched Roseanne’s season premiere on one platform or another.
It was renewed for another season two months ago. If Barr had been defiant this morning about the Jarrett joke, ABC might have choked on the fallout. But she realized quickly that she’d gone too far:
I wonder if it was the ferocity of the backlash on Twitter or a sweaty call from ABC executives that squeezed that out of her. Either way, I think if she had tweeted that crack at Jarrett before her show got rebooted, while Jarrett was still a high government official, ABC might have concluded that it wasn’t worth the trouble of dealing with her. (It shouldn’t matter if Jarrett was a White House advisor or not when Barr made her joke but it probably does.) She’s always been a crank — our own Ed Morrissey has firsthand experience with it — but some forms of crankery are more radioactive than others.
As it is, though, some of the network’s costs are sunk; ratings are solid; Barr’s crankishness is already priced into her celebrity stock to some degree; and she did apologize forthrightly, for whatever reason. Even if all of that’s not enough, the fact that she’s American television’s unofficial ambassador to MAGA Nation will probably buy her a bit of extra leeway. ABC’s gotten good press from the fact that Barr’s show is a rare look at a white working-class midwestern family, exactly the demographic that drove Trump’s victory in 2016 but which remains underrepresented on American TV. They’re “in touch” with Trump’s base in a way most competitors aren’t. They’ll be loath to throw that away over one tasteless joke.
Although if the cast and crew walk away in protest, they may have no choice:
I will not be returning to @RoseanneOnABC.
— Wanda Sykes (@iamwandasykes) May 29, 2018
Sykes was the show’s head writer — or, er, “consulting producer.” She won’t be easily replaced. More importantly, her walking away is a rallying point for a wider boycott and puts pressure on ABC to take disciplinary action. It won’t be cancellation (I think) but it’ll be something. Time to put the kibosh on next season’s Very Special Episode on Pizzagate, maybe?
Update: A thought from Matt Walsh:
Conservatives decided to adopt Roseanne — a far left, Christian-hating fruitcake — as one of their own. For their trouble, she has proceeded to embarrass them at every turn. Nicely done, guys. Give yourselves a round of applause.
— Matt Walsh (@MattWalshBlog) May 29, 2018
Update: Roseanne’s TV daughter, Sara Gilbert, weighs in. There’s no threat to walk here, but it’s strong stuff:
Roseanne’s recent comments about Valerie Jarrett, and so much more, are abhorrent and do not reflect the beliefs of our cast and crew or anyone associated with our show. I am disappointed in her actions to say the least.
— sara gilbert (@THEsaragilbert) May 29, 2018
This is incredibly sad and difficult for all of us, as we’ve created a show that we believe in, are proud of, and that audiences love— one that is separate and apart from the opinions and words of one cast member.
— sara gilbert (@THEsaragilbert) May 29, 2018
Update: This turned out to be my worst prediction since the election. Just like that, “Roseanne” is done.
— Kate Aurthur (@KateAurthur) May 29, 2018
Roseanne Barr is probably done too in mainstream American entertainment. Wow.
Update: Is POTUS going to tweet about this? If he does, for how many days will that be the lead story on the news?