Roseanne Cast (2018)

“It Was so Far over the Line and so Loathsome That I Suspected There Might Not Be Any Coming Back from It”: The Cast & Crew of Roseanne Speak up About Cancellation

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Since Roseanne, the show that was #1 in the country, was canceled yesterday due to the horribly racist comments of its creator, star and titular namesake Roseanne Barr, some of the cast and others have been making the social media rounds to talk about this development.

The Hollywood Reporter spoke to Dave Caplan, executive producer on Roseanne for the 10th season, about the fallout in the writer’s room from the tweets and cancellation.

“The day began by reading her tweet and I was immediately horrified,” Caplain says. “I really wasn’t sure what to do because I didn’t feel like there was really any response to it. It was so far over the line and so loathsome that I suspected there might not be any coming back from it. Frankly, I knew that that was a possibility—and rightfully so.”

Tuesday was also supposed to be the first day of writing for the then-upcoming 13th episode of what would have been Roseanne‘s 11th season. So Caplan went into work.

The interviewer asked about what Caplan knew about Barr when he signed up for season 10: “I exercised my due diligence and asked the powers that be what kind of mind-set she was in. I certainly wasn’t interested in the really unpredictable, unstable behavior of the early years. Everybody that knew her seemed to say that she had matured. I cautiously but optimistically started season 10.”

When it came to Barr’s behavior in the writer’s room “She was reasonable to work with at that point. There were suggestions she made that we didn’t think were the right direction for the show and she was willing to let those things go.”

Well, that optimism has been shattered. According to Caplan, the response to the tweets from the writers was “universal disgust” and while they felt her “crazy conspiracy theories” were “her own private opinions that she was entitled to,” racism made her action unacceptable (this was not Roseanne’s first racist tweet, but that’s for another post).

Apparently, the writers were prepared for something bad to happen, but the news of a full-on cancellation was still hard for them.  “Everybody was still stunned after the cancellation. Everybody knew how bad the tweet was and how ugly and ignorant it was. But the suddenness in which it all happened left us all dazed. You’re expecting to start a season, everybody has got ideas and is excited about what we can do and work that might not have been seen on television before. And then suddenly it’s over.”

Caplan hopes that what Roseanne has tweeted won’t color the work that the writers did. Oh, like that tasteless “take a knee” joke that Roseanne does in front of her black grandchild? Who should get the bill for that?

Here is my thing, with the exception of Emma Kenney (who played Darlene’s daughter on the show) who is eighteen and can be given the benefit of the doubt for not being fully aware of Roseanne’s twitter history, everyone else in the cast and crew is not only been fully aware, but were engaged in going around the news circuit justifying the show’s existence in spite of Roseanne Barr’s political history.

John Goodman and Laurie Metcalf pretty much used their reputation and the goodwill they have collected over the years, as national treasures, to market the show.

When asked about Roseanne’s extreme leanings they all fell back to the same deflection of “we are trying to have a conversation about a family.”

Even Caplan wants to maintain this idea that the show was trying to be nuanced and everyone went along with it in order to make money.

In one interview Metcalf said:”I don’t think the show is writing towards any sort of leanings politically. I think it’s really balanced. I’m proud of the way the writers have shaped it. It’s current, but it’s also nostalgic.”

Now that Roseanne has been cut, there is even some retrospective recourse, with several places pulling the reruns of the original show, including Hulu and Viacom-owned channels Paramount Network, TV Land, and CMT. That means all these actors are losing their syndication money, which I’m sure adds up to a sweet check, especially for those who don’t work as much anymore.

Some people have suggested the idea of just making Roseanne a spin-off show called Jackie (Metcalf’s character), keeping the rest of the cast, and killing off the Roseanne character à la The Hogan Family. In my opinion, it’s too late for that. The show isn’t being dropped because of money or an on-set dispute, it’s being scrapped because they decided to give someone with a well-known history of racist and problematic behavior a platform. They spent the entire time leading up to the premiere of the new season making every excuse for Barr and now the chickens have come home to roost.

The brand has been tarnished and I don’t think anyone would want to risk coming back. At least not actual stars like Goodman and Metcalf.

A part of me wishes the show hadn’t been taken off the air, because I’d love to know who would have stayed. If Emma Kenney and Wanda Sykes did end up quitting and a majority of the cast stayed, that would have said a lot. Because for all of the “we are so offended” talk, how many of them would have given up the money? And why is Kenney the only one calling Roseanne a bully?

Then we have some on the right who claim that Roseanne is being treated this way because of her political views I would say look at Fuller House. Fuller House has been renewed for a 4th season and despite having terrible reviews in its first season, has had a solid viewership throughout its run, and there are actually a lot of black viewers of the show as well who watch it proudly.

All this in spite of the fact that the lead, Candace Cameron Bure, is not only a conservative but a Trump supporter/voter. Openly known as well because she was “the conservative” on The View. So this idea that you can’t be a Trump supporter and have a successful show is legitimately untrue. Candace Cameron Bure may be a pro-Trump Republican, but she’s not making racist tweets online and is generally not an openly hateful person, despite voting for hateful policies.

The reality is that Roseanne Barr took her show that was about a working-class family, that talked about birth control, abortion, domestic violence, cycles of emotional abuse, etc. and turned it into this. She did that. And it is a shame because the first eight seasons of that show are really good and what it represented was important to the television landscape.

Thankfully we have Shameless, One Day at a Time, and other shows about working class people from all backgrounds to fill in the void that Roseanne has left behind. The void that she created when she decided to be a horrible person.

(image: ABC)

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Princess Weekes
Princess (she/her-bisexual) is a Brooklyn born Megan Fox truther, who loves Sailor Moon, mythology, and diversity within sci-fi/fantasy. Still lives in Brooklyn with her over 500 Pokémon that she has Eevee trained into a mighty army. Team Zutara forever.