Shady Things Roseanne Did That Everyone Just Ignores

In the early '90s, Roseanne broke boundaries with its realistic portrayal of working class America. It sweeped the Emmys and Golden Globes while spanning a litany of progressive, controversial topics and shattering the sitcom world's status quo. By its second season, the show had surpassed The Cosby Show as the most-watched sitcom in America, and it rucked on for seven more seasons before it was cancelled, then revived more than a decade later.

Despite the show's enormous success, the atmosphere on set was notoriously volatile. Roseanne Barr, the show's titular star, may have been regarded as a pioneer for female comics, but her tenacity would frequently get the best of her. Even today, her polarizing political beliefs have sparked public outrage and left many of us scratching our heads wondering if the once liberal comedian is an alt-right conspiracy theorist or Trumpian internet troll.

From mental breakdowns and highly publicized divorces to alleged knife fights and ill-advised Hitler costumes (because of course, there is always a Hitler costume), Barr's legacy is fraught with so much controversy that most of us don't even remember the half of it. Here are some shady things Roseanne did that everyone just ignores.

She gave a school shooting conspiracy her 'Nazi Salute'

Roseanne Barr has been an active — and wildly vocal — Twitter user since 2011. While it's not surprising to hear the comedian voice her loud (and often offensive) opinions, most of us thought conspiracy theories about teenage gun violence survivors would be patently off limits. Apparently, that wasn't the case.

The same night ABC premiered Roseanne's reboot to more than 18 million eager viewers, Barr was tweeting about a conspiracy theory involving David Hogg, a survivor of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Shooting that claimed 17 lives. According to USA Today writer Adam Sass, who captured the tweet before it was deleted, Barr replied to the conspiracy theory with the words, "Nazi salute."

The conspiracy theory Barr was referencing previously made waves on right-wing news sites such as InfoWars. It alleged that Hogg, a budding gun control activist, threw up a Nazi salute at the March for Our Lives rally in early 2018. In reality, the student's clenched fist was a sign of defiance, strength, and solidarity which has been widely used throughout history in political movements such as the civil rights movement and Black Lives Matter.

Thought the tweet was short-lived, screenshots have a life of their own. Twitter users slammed the actress and the hashtag #BoycottRoseanne spread like wildfire.

She dressed up as Hitler for a Jewish magazine

Hitler costumes have never played out well for celebs — from Tila Tequila to Prince Harry. Whether you're an upper class aristocrat or trashy reality star, the backlash doesn't discriminate. Then again, Roseanne Barr has never been afraid of backlash.

In 2009, Barr posed for a scandalous photoshoot in Heeb magazine, a satirical publication focused on young Jewish readers. In the spread, she donned a Hitler mustache and swastika armband as she pulled cookies out of an oven. The cookies were described as "burnt gingerbread Jew cookies" — yikes. Needless to say, the comedian was slammed across mainstream media, sparking a fierce debate on The View and landing a segment on The O'Reilly Factor.

Heeb stood by its photo spread, which was published in its Germany issue. Describing Barr as a "Nazi domestic goddess," the publication explained that it wanted to interrogate Jewish stereotypes. In the past, Heeb has shot Jewish comedian Sarah Silverman from behind a hole in a sheet and dressed up Jewish actor Jonah Hill as Moses holding two kegs.

Barr, who is also Jewish, refused to apologize for her spread. Instead, she criticized those who were offended in the first place.

"It really pissed me off. Because they were like 'you're making fun of the people in the ovens,' but I'm not making fun of people in the ovens," she said in an interview on The Green Room, adding, "I don't care what they think. That's what I'm trying to say. Let's stop holocausts."

Her Barr-Spangled Banner was labeled a national 'disgrace'

Though Roseanne may be golden in the eyes of Donald Trump, not all presidents have been a fan of her crass sense of humor. She was once labeled "disgraceful" by President George Bush after botching the national anthem.

In 1990, Barr got the chance to sing "The Star Spangled Banner" to kick off a Padres game at San Diego's Jack Murphy Stadium. Roseanne had recently dethroned The Cosby Show as the top-rated series on TV and Little Rosey, an animated spin-off, had just begun its short-lived run. Barr was on top of the world, but things came crashing down almost immediately after the first pitch.

She infamously screeched through the notoriously difficult song and was met with a relentless onslaught of 'boos" from angry Padres fans. After squawking through the high notes, the comedian concluded by grabbing her crotch and spitting onto the field — a move that was widely interpreted as a flag-disrespecting, Colin Kaepernick-esque political stance.

It's hard to deny that Barr's performance wasn't legendary —  it was just the kind of legend that sparked death threats and forced the Los Angeles Police Department to monitor her home for two entire years. In an uncharacteristic move, the actress actually issued a public apology, but it was already too late. According to the comedian, all of her projects were cancelled the very next day — but did she regret it? 

"Actually, no, I don't regret any of it," she told The Washington Post. "I'm glad that I still love to sing."

From Green Party presidential candidate to alt-right icon

Roseanne's flip-flopping politics have long caused fans to question whether or not the star is all right. In 2018, they're questioning whether or not she's alt-right. Barr has seemingly transformed from ultra-liberal, wannabe politician (she famously ran for the Green Party's presidential bid in 2012) to right-wing conspiracy theorist.

After Roseanne's reboot portrayed her eponymous character as a full-fledged Donald Trump supporter, the comedian admitted that she voted for the polarizing president. Trump even called Barr to congratulate her on Roseanne's success, but her bizarre politics and alt-right affiliations go deeper than any brief conversation with the president.

In recent years, Barr has used her Twitter account to feed into numerous far-right conspiracy theories. According to the Daily Beast, Barr has reposted articles from alt-right figurehead Milo Yiannopoulos' website and retweeted baseless InfoWars claims about the alleged "5.7 million illegals" who voted in the 2016 election. The Washington Post notes that Barr regularly tweeted about "Pizzagate," the conspiracy theory that alleges a number of Trump's biggest criticizers are involved in a secret pedophile ring, and also about Seth Rich's death, which many pro-Trump conspiracy theorists believe was a political assassination covered up by the Clintons. Of course, the vast majority of these tweets have been deleted, but not before being reposted on the "r/The_Donald" subreddit and garnering thousands of upvotes.

At the very most, Barr is a card-carrying member of the alt-right. At the very least, she's a Trumpian troll who's been adopted as an alt-right icon.

Tom Arnold claimed Roseanne tried to stab him with a butcher's knife

Roseanne Barr famously married actor Tom Arnold in January 1990, just four days after divorcing Bill Pentland, her husband of 16 years. 

Barr and Arnold's union was tumultuous throughout, and in 1994, she filed for divorce and slapped her husband with a restraining order. Barr claimed she was a "classic battered and abused wife" whose husband hit, beat, struck, pinched, threw objects at and verbally abused her — but Arnold had a different story.

Barr has always been open about struggling with mental illness, which includes both bipolar disorder and multiple personality disorder. Arnold claimed his wife had "27 different personalities."

"It was a complicated life and only two of her personalities liked me," he told "That is not a joke, so I would come home and there would be somebody that didn't like me."

According to Arnold, Barr exhibited a litany of abusive behaviors, from pulling out his hair plugs immediately after transplant surgery to saying he had 3-inch genitals on Saturday Night Live. However, the worst was a "true story" he included in his stand-up routine. He claimed Barr tried to stab him with a butcher's knife after he deprived her of Jenny Craig cookies.

She picked a fight with Lorde over Israel

Roseanne Barr has always been outspoken about her political beliefs — the only strange part is that sometimes she completely changes her mind. In 2009, she slammed Israel for being a "Nazi state" and called for the country to end its blockade and occupation of Gaza. She publicly announced plans to travel with pro-Palestinian activists, but by 2016, she was accepting awards from Israel-funded propaganda groups as a staunch advocate of the Israeli state. Of course, when Barr does anything, she does it as loudly as possible. This includes her support for the controversial country.

In December 2017, singer Lorde announced that she was canceling a concert in Tel Aviv after receiving an "overwhelming number of messages and letters" from activists opposing the Israeli occupation of Palestine. This didn't sit well with Barr, who called for her followers to "boycott this bigot." 

Ironically, barely a month later, Twitter users were campaigning to boycott Barr's sitcom over the star's controversial views. Barr has famously held a complicated relationship with her Judaism, calling for a nuclear attack on the non-Jewish students at the University of California and dressing up as Hitler in the same breath.

She attacked critics with profanity-filled notes

Throughout her life, Barr has fiercely supported what she believes in — sometimes it's for the greater good, like when she's slamming sexist network executives, and other times, it's to a fault. This was the case with The Jackie Thomas Show, an ABC series Barr helped create that starred her then-husband Tom Arnold.

According to the Los Angeles Times, The Jackie Thomas Show had one of the highest-rated premiers in years, yet it received mixed reviews from critics. In response, Barr fired off a series of profanity-laced, homophobic notes to those who doled out negative reviews. Because it was the '90s, Barr's smoking gun of choice was a fax machine — and no critic was safe.

Barr's venomous faxes were described by USA Today editors as "appalling," "horrific," and homophobic. In one of the tamest examples, the comedian told Los Angeles Times critic Howard Rosenberg that he would be "portrayed by an effeminate, mousy actor" if his life were made into a sitcom. Rosenberg had written that Arnold's show was "rarely funny" and his character was "one dimensional."

In a rare apology, Barr claimed her notes didn't contain any anti-gay slurs and were all personal attacks based on personal things. Addressing her message to Rosenberg, Barr said, "I'm trying to educate him on the difference between a personal attack and a review. I want him to know how it feels."

She made a list of people to fire when Roseanne hit No. 1

Barr has been known to hold a grudge like no other, and this was no more apparent than when she made a firing hit list and held onto it until her show achieved massive success.

In an op-ed for Vulture, the actress described the hostile environment on set after she fought to be awarded the "created by" credit she deserved. She claimed that she was constantly bullied and undermined by creator Matt Williams, who tried to coax her co-stars into doing the show without her. John Goodman, who played her TV husband, stood by Barr's side, but those who did not met an uncertain fate.

Barr reportedly crafted a hit list of sorts that she hung on her dressing room door. She listed the names of every person who worked on the show and made check marks next to those she wanted to fire when Roseanne hit No. 1. In December 1988, she finally achieved her goal and cleaned house. Though Barr admitted that she "enjoyed firing" the people she had "checked on the back of [her] dressing room door," most of the writers didn't suffer. They simply moved on to Home Improvement.

She accused her network of being sexist and stealing jokes

Barr has always been vocal about the terrible way Hollywood treats women. She has fearlessly stood up for what she believes is right, but things got a little hairy when she publicly decreed that ABC was brimming with misogynists who stole jokes from stand-up comics and other TV shows

"I was a working class woman comic in the classist, racist sexist lions' den of imbeciles," Barr wrote in an open letter to Norm MacDonald (via Bustle). "It was the level of jokes that I hated — mostly stolen from comics or seen on other TV shows for ages — no creativity no thought. That was the worst blow of all the sexist blows I took — they had to denigrate me as they took my money."

Even after Barr insisted the network hire female executives, she claimed the women they hired "hated feminism, " telling Vulture that the new hires were so "anxious to reach the professional level of the men they worshipped" that they would "stab other women in the back." According to Barr, these women were "the ultimate weapon used by men against actual feminists who try to work in media."

She boycotted her own show over a single line of dialogue

Fans of the original Roseanne series may have noticed that Barr had a very limited role in the episode "An Officer and a Gentleman." That's because Barr was in the midst of boycotting her very own show while they were filming.

At the time the episode was filmed, Barr was learning how to cope with the hostile environment she claimed was fostered by vindictive producer Matt Williams. She had already picked a battle over her wardrobe that ended with her threatening someone with a pair of scissors. In a Vulture op-ed, the comedian admitted that things came to a four-hour standstill when she was asked to say a line of dialogue that she thought was offensive.

"The line was a ridiculously sexist interpretation of what a feminist thinks — something to the effect of 'You're my equal in bed, but that's it.' I could not say it convincingly enough for Matt," she wrote. Consequently, Williams supposedly had his director give Barr a note in front of the entire cast and crew, a move which she felt was demeaning. She requested for the line to be changed, but Williams allegedly disagreed and made his feelings known by yelling over a loudspeaker. The back-and-forth became so heated that Barr hurled profanities at Williams, and ABC brought lawyers in to mediate. Barr calmly — but adamantly — claimed she refused to act until the line was changed.

She called producer Chuck Lorre a drunk...and lots of other stuff

Roseanne Barr has publicly shown sympathy for Charlie Sheen's highly-publicized breakdown. After suffering from numerous mental illnesses, a couple nasty divorces, and a few public meltdowns, the actor lost his starring role on Two and a Half Men. While Barr had a soft spot for Sheen, that empathy clearly did not extend to Two and a Half Men creator Chuck Lorre, whom Barr supposedly fired from Roseanne for allegedly drinking on the job.

In an "I don't know her" move that would rival Mariah Carey's level of pettiness, Barr explained in a now-deleted blog post, "I never really worked with [Lorre], as he was mostly drunk when he was on my show." She also took a jab at Lorre's brand of comedy, claiming that she'd once considered guest-starring on Two and a Half Men, but did not because the script was "putrid" and saying Lorre's lines could "choke a f***ing horse." 

In a 2011 op-ed published in Vulture, Barr accused Lorre of attempting to humiliate and destroy Sheen by inserting personal attacks at the end of Two and a Half Men. In Barr's mind, the show's tremendous success was due only to its vapid viewership. "Based on Two and a Half Men's success, it seems viewers now prefer their comedy dumb and sexist," she wrote.