Shortly after the end of The Conners premiere, in which Roseanne Conner was confirmed dead from an opioid overdose, Roseanne Barr lashed out on Twitter, “I AIN’T DEAD BITCHES.” Along with firing off her defiant tweet, Barr also released a lengthy, more measured joint statement with Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, on whose podcast she has appeared multiple times after ABC pulled the plug on Roseanne following her racist tweet. Barr once again condemned ABC’s decision to kill off Roseanne Conner (“This was a choice the network did not have to make”) and to cancel Roseanne (“The cancellation of Roseanne is an opportunity squandered due in equal parts to fear, hubris, and a refusal to forgive.”)
Here is the full statement posted on Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s Facebook page:
While we wish the very best for the cast and production crew of The Conners, all of whom are deeply dedicated to their craft and were Roseanne’s cherished colleagues, we regret that ABC chose to cancel Roseanne by killing off the Roseanne Conner character. That it was done through an opioid overdose lent an unnecessary grim and morbid dimension to an otherwise happy family show.
This was a choice the network did not have to make. Roseanne was the only show on television that directly addressed the deep divisions threatening the very fabric of our society. Specifically, the show promoted the message that love and respect for one another’s personhood should transcend differences in background and ideological discord. The show brought together characters of different political persuasions and ethnic backgrounds in one, unified family, a rarity in modern American entertainment. Above all else, the show celebrated a strong, matriarchal woman in a leading role, something we need more of in our country.
Through humor and a universally relatable main character, the show represented a weekly teaching moment for our nation. Yet it is often following an inexcusable — but not unforgivable — mistake that we can discover the most important lesson of all: Forgiveness. After repeated and heartfelt apologies, the network was unwilling to look past a regrettable mistake, thereby denying the twin American values of both repentance and forgiveness. In a hyper-partisan climate, people will sometimes make the mistake of speaking with words that do not truly reflect who they are. However, it is the power of forgiveness that defines our humanity.
Our society needs to heal on many levels. What better way for healing than a shared moment, once a week, where we could have all enjoyed a compelling storyline featuring a witty character – a woman – who America connected with, not in spite of her flaws, but because of them. The cancellation of Roseanne is an opportunity squandered due in equal parts to fear, hubris, and a refusal to forgive.
PREVIOUS: The lingering question of “What will happen to Roseanne?” on the premiere of The Conners may not be as pressing and riveting as “Who shot JR?” but it certainly is one of the TV history books.
After The Conners revealed that Roseanne Conner dead from an opioid overdose, Roseanne Barr took to Twitter to simply say “I AIN’T DEAD BITCHES.” Her fiery tweet was clearly in response to her character’s fate. Barr’s reaction comes after she said she would keep her distance from The Conners after she was fired from Roseanne for her racist tweets aimed at Valerie Jarrett.
On Tuesday night’s episode entitled “Keep on Truckin'” of the new Roseanne Barr-less revival spinoff (I guess that’s what we’re calling it) The Conners, it was learned that the character of Roseanne has died from the aforementioned opioid overdose. This isn’t that much of surprise considering the disgraced former star of the original show mentioned this exact cause of death on her YouTube channel in September. John Goodman, who plays Dan Conner, even mentioned her death in an interview in August. As Dominic Patten mentioned in his review The Conners, “she wasn’t abducted from her Illinois town by aliens, didn’t move away nor is in a coma.” So it didn’t take much to figure out what happened to the matriarch.
At the beginning of the episode, we learn that Roseanne has been dead for a couple of weeks and the family is in mourning. Dan thinks that she died of a heart attack while in their bed — which is why he refuses to sleep in it and opts to sleep on the couch.
But when Jackie (Laurie Metcalf) learns from a coroner’s report that she actually died of an opioid overdose, she tells Dan and he refuses to believe her. If you remember, Roseanne was popping pills in the original revival, but he thought she had it all under control and that she stopped.
When Becky (Lecy Goranson) and Darlene (Sara Gilbert) are doing some spring cleaning, they find a bottle of prescription pills with the name Marcy Bellinger. Dan is immediately furious and blames her for Roseanne’s death. He is so angry that he puts a sign on his truck saying that Marcy killed Roseanne and drives around town so that everybody knows.
Eventually, Marcy (played by guest star Mary Steenburgen) confronts Dan saying that she didn’t kill Roseanne and that they were exchanging pills. Dan still doesn’t believe her until Jackie finds stashes of pills all around the house. It turns out that she was getting pills from many people besides Marcy. He finally comes to the realization that the overdose was true. He comes to terms with it and the show ends with Dan finally sleeping in their bed.
The surprisingly dark episode opens a new chapter for The Conners. Hopefully, things won’t be such a downer in the new season.
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.