ABC saved “Roseanne” from a second cancellation, but the news comes with a huge asterisk.
The network is bringing back the show’s key players save one — star, creator and erstwhile domestic goddess Roseanne Barr.
The star’s ugly tweet aimed at former Obama administration figure Valerie Jarrett comparing her to the “Planet of the Apes” franchise proved Barr’s undoing. Within hours ABC canceled the wildly successful “Roseanne” reboot while Barr apologized repeatedly for her comments. Even some conservatives aghast at our PC culture acknowledged why the firing happened.
Now, ABC is rebooting the show without Barr via “The Conners,” the new show’s working title. We don’t know how ABC plans to write Barr’s character out of the storyline. What’s clear? The spinoff might be doomed from the start. Here are four reasons why:
No Star, No Show
Let’s start with the obvious. Would you reboot “The Nanny” without Fran Drescher? “Home Improvement” without Tim Allen? “The Cosby Show” without— scratch that last example.
Barr IS “Roseanne,” from its blue-collar roots to its quirky personality. She was the driving force then and now. Without her, the show has little reason to exist. It’s not as simple as a few creative nips and tucks. Barr’s fingerprints were all over the program early in its run and, more recently, as it shifted to a more red state-friendly pose.
Many “Roseanne” viewers cheered the reboot for giving President Donald Trump the benefit of the doubt. That angle is nowhere to be found in most scripted fare. The combination of ABC sacking Barr and TBS letting liberal comic Samantha Bee survive despite making similarly foul comments (in a pre-planned segment, to make matters worse) enraged conservative fans.
The double standard never seemed so clear, so ugly and so intractable. Think those fans will eagerly accept the new Roseanne-free show? Unlikely.
Trump Bashing 2.0?
We don’t know which way the new show will lean. Chances are extremely slim the pro-Trump angle will remain intact, though. Barr ensured that position took center stage, even while it allowed liberals to have their say, too. Without her presence, the show will have little reason to appease “Flyover Country.” Need proof? Name two other current shows that speak to that audience, a demo large enough to carry a reality show star to the Oval Office.
So if “The Conners” leans to the left it’ll simply be like every other show on TV today. What made the “Roseanne” reboot stand out will be history. Where’s the marketing attraction there?
Goodman, Metcalf and …
“Roseanne” mainstays John Goodman and Laurie Metcalf have been entertaining us for decades. They’re versatile, gifted and bring endless goodwill to their parts. The rest of the show’s cast can’t measure up to their greatness. Now, they’ll be forced to carry more weight. Are they up to the challenge? Even if they are, will viewers stick around to find out?