The popular sitcom “Roseanne” returned to TV on Oct. 16, but instead of bearing the name “Roseanne,” the show is now called “The Conner’s” due to the absence of actress Roseanne Barr.
Five months ago, the actress and comedian came under fire for posting racist tweets aimed at a former Obama administration official Valerie Jalett. Not long after the tweets were published, ABC fired Barr and cancelled the “Roseanne” revival, which had premiered two months prior.
When “The Conner’s” premiered Tuesday, the question on everybody’s mind was: How was the show going to handle the absence of Roseanne? In the season premiere, it is revealed Roseanne Conner died of an opioid addiction she had kept secret from the family.
Despite her absence, the rebranded show is garnering a positive reception as it currently holds an average of 95 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. At the end of the day, that’s what matters the most, that the show, whether or not Roseanne is on it, is still good.
Television shows losing major stars and having to make up for their absence has been a common practice in the entertainment industry. Back in 2011, CBS fired actor Charlie Sheen and replaced him with Ashton Kutcher on the sitcom “Two and a Half Men” after stories came out regarding Sheen’s alcohol and drug addiction.
Roseanne Barr is a well-known comedian and actress, but is also quite political to the point that much of the talk surrounding the then-upcoming “Roseanne” revival involved how Roseanne’s character supported Donald Trump. Barr was also known for supporting conspiracy theories like 9/11 being an inside job or the government using mind-control to dissuade support of the Republican party.
All of this came crashing down on Roseanne after the now-infamous tweet. People will say things they shouldn’t, and it can lead to consequences if he or she is not careful. In Roseanne’s case, though, she tweeted something wrongful, and it backfired immediately.
In the intervening months, she tried apologizing for what she had said, but the damage was done. The show is forging on without her and will try its best not to remind the audience who used to be on there, aside from the explanation in the first episode.
“Roseanne” is a franchise, and if it has to rebrand itself to survive, then so be it. The series has shown that it still has the chops to be a compelling experience due to its excellent cast and humor.
Was Roseanne Barr a major reason why the show was a hit in the first place? Yes. She was the anchor, so to speak, something the series held on to and used as a driving force when it premiered back in 1988.
But a lot happened between 1997 and 2018. People changed, so did Roseanne Barr. She became more outspoken about what she supported, especially after the rise of social media. Barr should have known that she had to restrain herself in the wake of the show’s revival, but she didn’t.
Now, the series is back, minus a critical piece of the puzzle.