Scorching the Earth

Editorial regarding Roseanne's cancellation on May 29, 2018When I heard ABC’s “Roseanne” was due to return in March 2018, I was really excited.  The original cast was due to return and I have fond memories of the first run of the show.

The show reboot came back with nine episodes, got great ratings and was renewed for a second season.

At a dizzying rate on May 29, 2018, things changed.  Roseanne Barr, the creator and star of “Roseanne”, tweeted a racist comment.  Although she apologized to her target and everyone, and removed the tweet, ABC cancelled the show, essentially “scorching the earth.”

So to recap:  Because the star exercised poor judgment in tweeting racist comments, ABC is losing a potential $100 million in ad revenue (quoted from ABC’s Nightline), 200 cast and crew have lost their jobs, there’s a hole in the fall season lineup, and I and all viewers are to be deprived of the joy of watching the “Roseanne” reboot’s second season.

I don’t think it’s right.  I didn’t think it was right when Gilbert Gottfried was fired as AFLAC’s duck’s voice after he made comments about the tsunami in Japan.  Yes, his comments were insensitive, but he is a comedian, not a diplomat.  Then again, I’m not a big Twitter user – I’ve tweeted a total of 7 times as of this writing.  Frankly, I tend to go about living my life each day and expect to find decent entertainment on television each night.   I don’t rely on social media for entertainment or news.

Maybe the networks and other employers should sit back and think first, instead of responding to the initial backlash and making hasty decisions.  Maybe these employers should have expectations stated upfront.

In the 1930s, Clark Gable (aka Rhett Butler of “Gone With the Wind”) couldn’t marry Claudette Colbert because of a morals clause in his contract.  Rumors of an affair or an out-of-wedlock child could result in cancelled contracts or ruined career.  Converting this idea to the current times, rules could be made about what is acceptable on social media.

Maybe, since Roseanne Barr has been known to make incendiary comments on her Twitter account, the network or show should have asked her to refrain from using her account for anything other than marketing her show.  Or at least refrain from political commentary.

After this melee, Roseanne herself said she was leaving Twitter.  Maybe ABC could reinstate the show on the condition that she surrender control of her Twitter account or cancel it entirely.

Other alternatives include killing off her character or recasting.  I’d be willing to read for that part!

Without “Roseanne” on television, that gives me less of an excuse to watch television, so I might be more productive.

But maybe scorching the earth isn’t the answer – there isn’t a huge shortage of bloggers or writers, after all.


What is your opinion of this situation?  Do you think ABC overreacted by cancelling Roseanne?  What do you think would be appropriate consequences for tweets such as Roseanne Barr’s?