ABC had all the information. The network chose to place that information aside and hope for the best.
In a better-than-anyone-even-anticipated result, the Roseanne reboot dominated prime time on arrival, attracting millions of appreciative, nostalgic and downright curious viewers. Enthusiasts waxed rhapsodic about an outspoken supporter of President Donald Trump beating liberal Hollywood at its own game. The commander in chief even personally congratulated Roseanne Barr on her ratings, which remain the former Apprentice host’s benchmark for success. ABC quickly renewed the show for a second season.
All Barr had to do was not tweet. Or at least not tweet something that, as a pioneering stand-up comedian and sitcom star—and as a 65-year-old woman—she knew darn well was an unequivocally racist remark. She failed. But not at making a “joke,” as she claims comparing Obama aide Valerie Jarrett to the spawn of the Muslim Brotherhood and Planet of the Apes was supposed to be.
And so ABC’s risky gambit blew up in its face Tuesday. Its biggest scripted hit of the season imploded, torpedoed by the titular star whose unarguably galvanizing presence provided the wind in Roseanne‘s lofty sails, until her lack of self-control sank the whole enterprise.
Alas, that wasn’t all she wrote.
Despite a tweet about leaving Twitter before ABC Entertainment Group President Channing Dungey declared Roseanne officially canceled, Barr was back at it Tuesday night and all day Wednesday, at first telling supporters not to defend her because she did something “unforgiveable,” but also retweeting supporters (seemingly all of whom had very strong “conservative” leanings) who were all too happy to bash the so-called intolerant left. She also insisted she’s not racist, but rather was just acting like an “idiot” on Ambien. She also denied she was blaming Ambien, instructing someone who implied as much to “stop lying.”
To which Ambien maker Sanofi replied, “People of all races, religions and nationalities work at Sanofi every day to improve the lives of people around the world. While all pharmaceutical treatments have side effects, racism is not a known side effect of any Sanofi medication.”
Peeking into someone’s medicine cabinet can be revealing. Being an “idiot” under the influence of a sleep aid may well be an “explanation not an excuse,” as Barr tweeted. Yet being exhausted or feeling a little loopy just means that stuff you’d in all likelihood still come up with while clear-headed and on eight hours’ rest has found an easier route out of your brain.
And in so doing, she explained it all.
So that begs the question: What the hell happened to Roseanne Barr?
The answer is, a lot of things happened to her. She’s had an incredibly fascinating life, and her entrée into the comedy world and what she managed to achieve meant a lot, to a lot of people. It still does, and probably still will in the future, though it will never be the same.
And now she means all new things to certain people who are handily adopting her for their own agenda as they engage in a lopsided debate now taking place about free speech and a nonexistent double standard.
There was a point to Roseanne 2.0, important social commentary that was struggling to be heard (unlike with the 1988-’97 go-round, when it was heard loud and clear and widely applauded, especially in hindsight) above the noise over whether the show should exist in the first place. And amid the hype, there was enough likability left in Barr’s portrayal of Roseanne Conner that—even if you don’t agree with the star’s politics—still provided for some enjoyable, albeit conflicted, viewing.
We’ll never know if the rest of the cast would’ve been able to shake the “we’re back, wink” gloss that coated some of every episode had they returned for a second season. Barr, however, had slipped right back into her role like a comfortable slipper, a scenario that ultimately made far more sense to weary, wary audiences than the arc of her character in real life.
Roseanne Barr, when she got her start as a stand-up comedian—crediting, like so many other famous names have, recently departed Comedy Store owner Mitzi Shore for giving her a boost—was, like now, a tough, acid-tongued woman with blue-collar roots who’d been around and seen some stuff.
The daughter of Russian Jewish immigrants, she was born in Salt Lake City, where her parents kept their religion a secret to better fit in with the heavily Mormon community in their working-class neighborhood. As she’s said in various interviews, her mother would freeze and make her kids hide in the basement when the doorbell rang, still traumatized by the horrors of the Holocaust.
“You weren’t supposed to think there,” Barr later told The Guardian about her stifling upbringing. “First of all it was frowned upon to be a girl, and second of all to be a fat, dark-haired girl who had no waist, and third to be a loudmouthed, short, fat, dark girl.”
Barr suffered head trauma when she was hit by a car at 16, and was institutionalized at Utah State Hospital for eight months. She got pregnant at 18 and opted to put the child up for adoption.
She married Bill Pentland, a Colorado motel clerk, when she was 21 and, going from mountain cabin to 8’x46′ trailer, they had three kids in just over three years.
They divorced in 1990, but Pentland wrote the foreward to Barr’s 2011 book Roseannearchy: Dispatches From the Nut Farm, recalling that after about five years of traditional domesticity Barr “began to explore radical feminism and Wicca and went to work at a women’s collective bookstore, staffed by the angriest bunch of ball-bustin’ babes” he had ever met in his life.
His “rad-lib” sister-in-law Geraldine—the inspiration for Laurie Metcalf’s Jackie Conner—was living with them at the time, Pentland wrote, and she applauded Barr’s evolution.
Interestingly, Pentland also noted in the foreward that he didn’t think Sarah Palin would have been so Sarah-Paliney “had there never been a Roseanne Conner.”
Starting in Denver comedy clubs, Barr built an act around her hardscrabble beginnings, armed with lots of opinions on the differences between men and women and the haves and have-nots. As many comedians have said over the years, she counts her first-ever five minutes on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, in 1985, as her true moment of arrival in Hollywood.
Three years later, Roseanne premiered on ABC in all its groundbreaking glory. The Conner family was solidly working class, not your average how-do-they-afford-that-nice-house family that people were far more used to seeing on a network comedy. The show dealt with economic hardship and the pain of unemployment, sexual harassment on the job, substance abuse and teen sex. Eventually the show had multiple gay characters, and in the 1994 episode “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (named after the unfortunate Clinton administration policy of the same name) Barr shared a kiss with guest star Mariel Hemingway.
“The religious right was very upset, and there were other upset people,” Hemingway recalled to The Hollywood Reporter in March. “When you’re doing something, you’re in it and you don’t realize the impact that it will have. But then, it was several weeks later, and they were about to air it, and it was so controversial.”
ABC almost didn’t air it, but Barr demanded they stay the course. And they did.
”I like playing a guy like this without making him a knuckle-dragger,” John Goodman told the Washington Post when the show first premiered. ”Plus I love working with Rosy—she makes me laugh so damn much…There’s no acknowledgment of the fact that they are anything other than ordinary Joes, but I like to think of them as semi-witty and I like the fact that they enjoy each other’s humor, because you will see that we crack up and that’s the way it is in life. You make each other laugh.”
Meanwhile, Barr’s life off-screen was a tabloid fever dream.
“This has been the hardest year I ever lived through,” she told People in 1989 as her sitcom’s second season got underway. “I lost my marriage, my children got very messed up. Then in a three-month period I ended up with a new man, a new daughter, a new house. But I almost died. It was just so insane—all the behind-the-scenes s–t around the show. That’s why I’ve never talked about it before. It was just too insane.”
She battled the network for the Roseanne credit she rightly felt she deserved, relaying on multiple occasions, including in her first memoir, Roseanne: My Life As a Woman, that it was a gut punch to see her show premiere and have the credits read “created by Matt Williams,” when the series’ entire premise was based on her life. That, of course, led to her being painted as difficult or otherwise demanding and diva-like by the press. She admittedly did not get along with Williams, but there were also reports—not true, she said—that she was feuding with Goodman and Laurie Metcalf.
“When I threatened to quit, that’s when they fired Matt,” Barr said. “Or ‘removed him from the creative process,’ but he still has a ‘created by’ credit on the show. Two weeks after Matt left, the show went to No. 1.”
Barr went to start shooting the 1989 comedy She-Devil with Meryl Streep in New York just as her 14-year-old daughter Jessica was entering treatment for alcohol abuse in L.A., which was admittedly “rough” for both of them. But they talked every day, Barr told People, and she credited Pentland for really stepping up as a father while she was working, and as they grew further apart as a couple.
It was also around that time that a tabloid informed her it had tracked down Brandi, the daughter she gave up for adoption at 18, and told the girl her birth mother was someone famous.
“I begged them to stay the f–k away,” Barr said. “Then I panicked and hired a private detective to track her down rather than have her read about me being her mom in a tabloid, which is so dirty and sleazy.” When they did reunite, “we embraced and wouldn’t let go of each other, hugging and crying.”
Barr also underwent multiple cosmetic surgery procedures during the show’s run and had a very public struggle with keeping her weight under control, at one point tipping the scale at 350 pounds. She eventually had a gastric bypass in 1998, telling People in 2007, “I had my entire digestive system removed, so I should look thinner.”
In 1991 she told a small gathering of therapists and members of the Survivors United Network, held at a church in Denver, that she was a survivor of incest. She said that she sought therapy after an event two years prior triggered repressed memories of suffering sexual abuse as a child, People reported at the time.
“This is the truth I unraveled: My mother abused me from the time I was an infant until I was 6 or 7 years old,” Barr further told People. “She did lots of lurid things. She hurt me psychologically and physically.” She also alleged that her father molested her till she was 17 and left home. (Through a lawyer, Barr’s parents denied any and all allegations of abuse.)
After The Tonight Show made her a star, “I had people surrounding me who were abusive to me, who lied to me, made deals behind my back,” she said. “The worse I was treated, the more loyal I was.”
“Only in the last two years have I realized the consequences of keeping our secret,” Barr continued. “I have lived the majority of my life in a flesh prison that I was always trying to blow up, break out of, whittle away. I tortured my body, smoking five packs of cigarettes a day and indulging in drug, alcohol and food abuse that had me weighing either 100 lbs. or 200 lbs. I was scratching and tearing at my body—mutilating myself. It was as if punishing my body would turn me into an angel of some sort, an angel that could transcend my own body—a body I hated because it was the holder of the truth, the secret.”
In 2008 she told The Guardian that she and her father, who had since died, had forgiven each other and he still guided her from beyond. “We had, like, an understanding for a minute and it was forgiveness on both sides…Everybody does something they find abhorrent in someone else, so I forgive my dad for what he did and I hope my kids will do that for me.” (She had talked about being a very un-present parent for son Jake and daughters Jessica and Jennifer while she was on the road performing.)
As her marriage to Pentland was falling apart, she was falling in love with Tom Arnold, whom she called her best friend at the time. She stuck by him through rehab and their dual weight fluctuations became further tabloid fodder.
“It’s been almost two months [since moving in together], and it’s working great,” Barr told People in October 1989. “My kids like him a lot, he likes them, we all help each other. He and Jessica both go through their recovery programs and support each other.”
Days after her divorce was finalized, Barr and Arnold married on Jan. 20, 1990. He appeared regularly on Roseanne as Dan Conner’s reliably unreliable pal Arnie, as well as served as a writer and producer on the show. Arnold was then an executive producer from 1991 until 1994, when he and Barr divorced in spectacularly ugly fashion.
Tensions came to a head when they had an explosive argument on the set, widely thought to have something to do with Arnold’s rumored affair with his assistant Kim Silva.
“The problems between me and Rosey have nothing to do with a third party,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “Rosey knows this. Kim is a close friend of hers.” He added, “We have had a volatile relationship. We’re passionate people. But we love each other. I think we will resolve this.”
Barr (who became Roseanne Arnold for awhile and did a mud-wrestling themed shoot with her husband for Vanity Fair) alleged that Arnold was physically abusive, which he denied, and that he bilked her for as much money as he could get. He has forever insisted that she had him banned from ABC.
“I took all your money, and I ruined your career,” Arnold accused her of thinking when they both were on The Howard Stern Show post-split, Barr in studio and Arnold by phone. “No, you didn’t ruin my career, I’m still working,” she replied. “You ruined your career.”
Let’s just say, Arnold’s had a gleeful past few days on Twitter. (He did show up, however, to the Comedy Central roast of Roseanne in 2012, where he cracked, “I’m here to honor Roseanne, because I f–king earned it, the hard way.” It was the first time they’d been in a room together in 18 years, he said.)
Barr went on to marry bodyguard Ben Thomas in 1995 and they’re parents to son Buck, whose college graduation his proud mom just celebrated on Instagram.
Though the series finale of Roseanne in 1997 was simultaneously underwhelming and upsetting due to the decision to end it with the reveal that Goodman’s Dan had died of a heart attack, the family hadn’t really won the lottery (a plot point that framed the entire final season) and Roseanne Conner was making up a lot of what you’d just seen for a book, history had been made. The bad ending did not spoil all that had come before it.
The show itself was never nominated for a best comedy series Emmy, but Barr, Goodman and Laurie Metcalf all won for acting (Metcalf actually has three for playing Roseanne Conner’s desperately searching sister, Jackie).
Roseanne “gave me a way to save my own life and the life of my children,” Barr said on The Oprah Winfrey Show ahead of the finale. “And these great people who I learned from and had fun with and love, it was just awesome…But I did get to work things out in my head and nobody gets that kind of a chance. I got to be responsible for my work, which, you know, there’s so few of us who get that.”
“But you fought it, you fought it,” Winfrey said, “and they did bad press about it, and you kept fighting ’cause you didn’t give a hoot what they said. And you kept fighting.”
“I needed to for my own self,” Barr said. “I needed to create a mother who was good.”
That was 21 years ago. The ensuing years are where it all gets confusing.
It’s a fallacy to treat Barr now as simply a once-beloved talent who received blind, blanket admiration—like, say, Bill Cosby. She was purposely polarizing (plenty of folks washed their hands of her when she “sang” the national anthem in 1990), outspoken, sometimes obnoxious (just how much was subjective) and always pretty fearless.
But all the crumbs that led to now are out there, just scattered far and wide over two decades.
“I never thought Hollywood was going to be no picnic,” she told People in 1989. “I knew it was a lot of bulls–t. People think I went wacko and turned into a star with a great big head, got out of control and acted erratically in public. It’s because people in high places in this town believe the tabloids that people burn their trash with in the Midwest. I see myself as a strong and loving person, and what got me through this incredible year was having faith and hope. I believe in karma and all that, but I also believe that as long as you tell the truth you’re protected. And if you go over some rough s–t, it’s ’cause you’re supposed to and learn things in this life.”
She underwent her gastric bypass in 1998, after which she hosted her own talk show, The Roseanne Show, for two years. In 2002 she and Thomas divorced. She soon after met her current boyfriend, Johnny Argent, when she held a writing competition on her blog and he entered. They talked on the phone for a year before finally meeting. They continue to reside together on a macadamia nut farm on the Big Island of Hawaii, hence her book, Dispatches From the Nut Farm.
“I like to shop, to buy cards, I like to take photographs, to grow things, to cook, to blog, and to talk to my boyfriend,” Barr told The Guardian in 2008.
She went on tour, filming myriad specials, but no plan for a return to television in a new scripted capacity ever stuck.
In London to perform when she talked to The Guardian, she said, “Humanity is a failed experiment. But I think I’m God and I’d like to start over. I don’t want to die, I just want everyone else to. I certainly would not be lonely. It would be exciting never having to listen to another person again but just my own self droning on and on. That’s why I write a blog. And I read it too…I think I should be here alone to rethink the world, I do. I want these lesser humans gone.”
The writer noted that it was hard to tell when Barr, who has studied Kabbalah and considers herself spiritual, was being serious or not. “I’m God because I have the power to control my mind,” she added, somewhat assuaging the writer’s concerns.
It was a month before Barack Obama was elected president and Barr scoffed at Sarah Palin calling herself a feminist, the Alaska governor all of a sudden on the national stage after John McCain picked her as his running mate.
“She’s a careerist. I had a time in my life too when I didn’t stay at home with my kids because I was on a bigger mission,” Barr said. “She’ll pay for it later though. She’ll get her karma…In the ’60s we used to say if a woman ruled the world there would be no war. But that’s not right. What we mean is a thinking, conscious woman, and there’s no place for any of us in this world. To make it in a man’s world takes a certain kind of woman. Sarah Palin is the kind of woman they want right now.”
Now the image is re-emblazoned on people’s brains, but back in 2009 it was very easy to not see Barr’s truly bizarre photo shoot for Heeb magazine—a Jewish satirical publication that had the award-winning comedian pose in Hitler garb, complete with mustache, and take a sheet of burnt gingerbread “Jew cookies” out of an oven.
Creepy and offensive to most? Yes, but…Barr’s Jewish, right? So it didn’t mean what it looked like, but still…? Oh well, not worth thinking about too hard in the moment.
In 2011, she and Argent showed off their farm for the short-lived reality series Roseanne’s Nuts. The following year, Barr announced she was running for the Green Party nomination for president with the slogan “Yes We Cannabis!,” a nod to the intent to legalize and tax marijuana on the party platform. She lost the primary to Jill Stein, but then won the Peace and Freedom Party nomination, eventually coming in sixth in the general election despite only being on the ballot in three states.
Barr said that, since she wasn’t on the ballot in her home state of Hawaii, she voted for Obama. More interested in shaking up the system than burning it down entirely, she had said at a Green Party debate in San Francisco, “For those people, if they could just leave the Democratic Party and register as Greens, they could still vote for Obama but it would be sending the Democratic Party itself a message it needs to hear.”
Aside from sometimes radical political musings, her schismatic Twitter history began in earnest, however, in 2012, when she retweeted the address of the parents of George Zimmerman, the Florida man who shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, but was later acquitted of murder and manslaughter.
“At first I thought it was good to let ppl know that no one can hide anymore … If Zimmerman isn’t arrested I’ll rt his address again – maybe go 2 his house myself,” Barr wrote in a tweet she later deleted. (The Zimmermans sued her in 2014; a judge dismissed the lawsuit in 2015.)
That made her a hero to some, her brazen ways seen as being used for good.
In December 2013, however, she reportedly tweeted that then-National Security Advisor Susan Rice, who is black, was “a man with big swinging ape balls.” (Rice retweeted a person who, in response to Sara Gilbert denouncing Barr’s Valerie Jarrett comment, pointed out Barr’s heinous since-deleted comment about Rice.)
But optimism was running high, and in 2014 Barr joined NBC’s Last Comic Standing as a judge, where she remained for two seasons.
In 2015 she talked about regularly using medical marijuana to treat glaucoma and macular degeneration, and in February 2016, she said she would be investing in a pot dispensary in Santa Ana, Calif. She told the Orange County Register in a statement, “I’m proud to be a cultural pioneer at the forefront of another wave of progress! And we’re proud of the city of Santa Ana as we continue to move into the era of recognizing cannabis as the natural, therapeutic, herbal substance medical science has proven it to be. Roseanne’s Joint will be a responsible, contributing member of, and addition to, the community.”
Regarding going into business with Barr, her partner in the venture Aaron Herzberg told the paper, “We think it will bring credibility and a good name and frankly, good values.” He added, “She’s very spiritual, she’s very holistic, she’s extremely into natural remedies, and I can tell you that she believes very strongly that marijuana is medicine. And she wants us to educate patients in a way that I don’t think many other dispensaries are doing and make it a safe and comfortable environment.”
Following up a year later, after a dispensary called Bud and Bloom opened in place of Roseanne’s Joint, Barr responded to the OC Weekly via Twitter, “It didn’t work out for me and the investor.” Herzberg had no comment as to why he didn’t ultimately go into business with Barr.
In that span of time, however, Barr had unleashed some of her more fiery political opinions.
Talking to Dave Rubin on The Rubin Report that August, she compared the 2016 presidential campaign to a circus—”Greatest f–kin’ P.T. Barnum on f–kin’ drugs”—and said she loved “every f–kin’ second of it.”
When Rubin brought up that she didn’t “love” Hillary Clinton, Barr said forcefully, “I like her. I’ve met and had dinner and lunch with her. I’ve spoken to her about women’s issues and Jewish issues, and things like that. And charities, and how I don’t think that charities should…they shouldn’t have a f–king bank’s worth of money if they’re trying to help people.” (She was referring to the by-then controversial Clinton Foundation, started after President Bill Clinton left office.)
“It’s all just a double mind f–k,” she concluded. “Double talking, Big Brother mind f–k, where the rich is gettin’ way richer. Anybody who’s contaminated with money is a filthy, dirty f–kin’ rat…Capitalism is on its death bed.” Barr was there to talk about what she described as “socialist solutions,” calling the system currently in place “national socialism” (the misnomer claimed by the fascist Nazi party), based on “vampire capitalism,” which needed to die.
So, Barr had a very big problem—as do many—with the fairly agreed-upon conclusion that politics have been soiled by money, that most politicians are more or less owned by Wall Street and lobbyists, the system is rigged, etc. Her language was hyperbolic, and her logic flawed at times, but it aligned with a lot of people who preferred Bernie Sanders over Clinton for president.
But at some point—damn that Twitter!—she also started tweeting about and retweeting, let alone just your average Trump boasts and questionable claims from sources such as InfoWars, but also someone who defended Pizzagate, the nutter conspiracy theory that had Democrats, including Hillary Clinton, running a child-trafficking ring in the basement of a Washington, D.C., pizza parlor (don’t worry, a “concerned” citizen with a gun showed up and found nothing in the basement). She also propagated the theory that there was a hit put out on DNC staffer Seth Rich, who was shot and killed in 2016.
She once called Israel a “Nazi state,” but then became virulently anti-Palestinian, conceivably in support of Israel but in that way that’s going to help nobody in the end. She retweeted a graphic comparing Islam to Nazism. She dismissed the existence of transgender people.
Then, simply, there was her support of—and vote for—Donald Trump, which no matter what you think of him didn’t seem to align with any of the socially minded concerns she had previously voiced.
Yet instead of grinding to a halt, the wheels at ABC were turning, and in May 2017, the planned reboot of Roseanne was officially announced.
“The Conners’ joys and struggles are as relevant—and hilarious—today as they were then, and there’s really no one better to comment on our modern America than Roseanne,” Channing Dungey said in a statement.
Cue the brushing aside of major concerns and a lot of half-hearted jokes about Twitter-mad Roseanne Barr returning to her old stomping grounds as the excitement built over the return of all the major living cast members, including Johnny Galecki (who, in a twist of fate no one could have predicted, became the most successful sitcom star of them all after the original Roseanne ended).
Then the promotional tour started, and Roseanne-in-person was still recognizable at least, unlike Roseanne-on-Twitter.
“You were kind of the original crazy tweeter running for president,” Jimmy Kimmelobserved when Barr and Goodman appeared together on Jimmy Kimmel Live in March.
“Yeah,” she laughed, “Trump totally stole my act.” “And I’ve been paying women hush money for years!” quipped Goodman.
Barr said that the division between Roseanne and Jackie over the former’s vote for Trump (and what turned out to be Jackie’s lamented, last-minute panic vote for Jill Stein because her big sister had gotten inside her head, as always) was an accurate reflection of real-life families torn up over politics these days.
Asked if that was a problem in her own family, Barr said, “We had some pro-Hillarys and some pro-Trump, and there was a lot of fightin’.”
“Weren’t you a good friend of Hillary Clinton’s at one point?” Kimmel asked.
Feigning being startled, Barr acknowledged, “Yeah, I was.” “I think you accused her of being a murderer on Twitter, didn’t you?” Kimmel said, smiling, to which she exclaimed, “I did not!”
At the same time, Goodman was cracking up next to her, Kimmel actually having arranged for the Conner family couch, complete with brightly color blanket, to serve as their seats.
Jimmy informed her he was going to find the tweet and she laughed, “I deleted it, so f–k you!” (She deleted a lot of tweets in preparation for her show’s return.)
“I had some disagreement with her foreign policy,” Barr said demurely. “[Hillary] had one!” Goodman interjected. Asked if he agreed with Clinton’s foreign policy, Kimmel said, “Never mind her foreign policy, how about Captain Wacko we’ve got running the country here?” Admitting he was surprised by her allegiance, Barr said, “I’m still the same—you all moved! Y’all went so f–king far out you lost everybody…I mean, seriously, a lot of your audience, and including me…no matter who we voted for, we don’t want to see our president fail.” That got some applause. And then they both agreed that they didn’t want Mike Pence to become president.
So, with everyone chuckling and having a good time, comedians on talk shows getting laughs, and Barr in the company of outspoken Trump critic Kimmel and Goodman, who’s been playing now former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Saturday Night Live… it all sort of read as absurdist comedy. What had come before was still getting a pass.
“People think this show is more political than it is. It’s more about how a family deals with a disagreement like that. But I get it, it creates website clicks,” Sara Gilbert, who helped set the whole reboot in motion at ABC and was serving as an executive producer in addition to reprising the role of Darlene Conner, explained to The Hollywood Reporter earlier this year.
Barr, meanwhile, told THR that her kids had taken over her Twitter. “Well, I’ve wanted her off [Twitter] forever,” Gilbert added.
Well, yeah. That would have helped, considering the rapturous response from some corners—and the numbers, which don’t lie—when the show finally premiered. Think pieces abounded: Why more people should watch. Why no one should watch. Why the show is good but I’m not watching. What the show is trying to say—and what it isn’t saying.
But none of it matters anymore, because Barr couldn’t control herself. On May 3, she tweeted—and not from the goodness of her heart—”follow @StormyDaniels so u can stay informed of what’s important in our country! thanks!” Any seed of truth about what’s important and what isn’t was buried in Barr’s mean-spirited intent and in the profane vitriol that ensued as Roseanne fans piled on, @-ing the porn star who was paid $130,000 by Trump lawyer Michael Cohen to stay quiet about an alleged affair with Trump in 2006.
Then, as Memorial Day became Tuesday morning, Barr tweeted “Chelsea Soros Clinton,” a reference to 87-year-old liberal billionaire George Soros, who according to a particularly pervasive conspiracy theory is pulling all the Democratic Party strings, everywhere, and whom Barr referred to as a Nazi “who turned in his fellow Jews 2 be murdered in German concentration camps & stole their wealth.” (The Hungarian-born businessman survived the Holocaust as a teenager, but another virulent rumor, born from an interview quote ripped out of context, has him conspiring with Nazis in Hungary to confiscate property from fellow Jews.)
But rather than bullying and conspiracy mongering, it was overt racism that ultimately did her in, Barr having already flung the descriptor of “Nazi” around to describe Israel years ago, Muslims more recently and Parkland High School activist David Hogg a few months ago.
On Tuesday morning, folks who if nothing had happened probably just would’ve tuned into the Roseanne revival’s second season this fall, woke up to the debacle over Barr’s repulsive Valerie Jarrett tweet. ABC announced the show’s cancellation within a few hours, Channing Dungey calling Barr’s tweet “abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values.”
As for the rest of her tweets…
Compartmentalizing only works for so long. What takes place on Twitter doesn’t always reflect reality, but Roseanne Barr’s abuse of the medium is about as real as it gets.