Celeb Reactions To Roseanne's Cancellation

In the wee hours of May 29, 2018, Roseanne Barr sealed the fate of her hit show with a since-deleted tweet that called former Obama aide Valerie Jarrett the offspring of "Muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes." ABC, the network home of her revival series, Roseanne, acted swiftly and canceled the show just hours later, with Entertainment president Channing Dungey condemning Barr's tweet as "abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values."

Barr's castmates reacted quickly as well. Producer and comedian Wanda Sykes resigned from the show on Twitter before it was even canceled. Co-star Emma Kenney revealed that she also planned to walk, only to find out the show had already been axed. Co-star and executive producer Sara Gilbert tweeted that Barr's comments "do not reflect the beliefs of our cast and crew or anyone associated with our show," while Michael Fishman, who played DJ, tweeted a series of long messages, describing his devastation over Barr's comments and the show's cancellation.  

Barr provided plenty of her own reactions to the cancellation, most notably her excuse that she was "ambien tweeting," an apparent reference to the prescription sleep aid, which the drug-maker itself countered by tweeting that "racism is not a known side effect of any Sanofi medication."  Sick. Burn. 

The takes have, indeed, been hot, and plenty of other famous folks have also gotten in on the action. These are the celeb reactions to Roseanne's cancellation.

Nobody called Donald. Sad!

One of the most prevalent reactions to Roseanne's cancellation has been the suggestion that a double standard exists between liberal and conservative comedians. It's been a scathing debate ever since ABC's announcement, and while we're not going to offer an opinion on it here, we will point out that it was how President Trump approached the show's cancellation when he weighed in on the matter.

"Bob Iger of ABC called Valerie Jarrett to let her know that 'ABC does not tolerate comments like those' made by Roseanne Barr," the president tweeted. "Gee, he never called President Donald J. Trump to apologize for the HORRIBLE statements made and said about me on ABC. Maybe I just didn't get the call?" the commander-in-chief continued, referencing himself in the third person.

As of this writing, it's unclear if Iger, the CEO of Disney, which is ABC's parent company, has responded to POTUS. Maybe he's too busy with the day-to-day responsibilities that come along with such an important executive position?

Shonda Rhimes: Shade Queen

Shonda Rhimes, the powerful Hollywood showrunner behind megahits such as Scandal and Grey's Anatomy, offered a fittingly clever response to Roseanne's cancellation. "But honestly she got what she deserved. As I tell my 4 year old, one makes a choice with one's actions," Rhimes tweeted. "Roseanne made a choice. A racist one. ABC made a choice. A human one."

Rhimes later tweeted, "The terrible part is all of the talented innocent people who worked on that show now suffer because of this. #not justice." She also posted some subtle shade via retweets, including this one, reminding everyone about Mental Health Awareness Month, and this one, questioning ABC's decision to not run a controversial episode of Blackish, which, in part, addressed the controversy over NFL players kneeling during the national anthem. We see you, Shonda. 

Nope, no axe to grind here

It should come as no surprise that Roseanne Barr's ex-husband, Tom Arnold, has treated her downfall with the excitement of a kid on Christmas morning. He was all over the news on Twitter, congratulating Bob Iger on the decision, retweeting hit pieces on Barr, and mocking her Ambien excuse with the admittedly great rebuttal: "I was on Ambien 1990-1994," which is a reference to the four years they were married.

Arnold also went to the mainstream media, giving interviews to CNN and The Hollywood Reporter. He told the former that by following Barr's social media, he'd predicted it would "not end well" for her. To THR, he suggested Barr intentionally tanked the show with her tweet, because at some point, "she would have felt like she was [being] taken advantage [of], just like when I left the show." (Arnold was a writer on the original incarnation of Roseanne in the late '80s.)

We may never know why Barr posted that tweet, so we'll just have to take Arnold's word for it, because after all, who knows her better than the guy she acrimoniously divorced more than two decades ago?

Messing goes medieval

Aside from her acting career, Will & Grace star Debra Messing is known for her outspoken social media takes on controversial topics, including gun control and Kathy Griffin's career-killing tweet of a bloody Donald Trump mask. It was no different with the Roseanne cancellation, which Messing initially responded to by tweeting: "I just heard #rosanne is cancelled. My reaction — tears. I am so relieved and grateful. The hate that has been spewing from those in Trump's orbit has really taken a toll on all of our souls and psyches. I didn't believe it would happen. I had lost faith. Thank you @abc."

From there, she unloaded a barrage of retweets, most of which were aimed at redirecting the attention onto controversial statements made by Trump. Even in her emphatic tweet to those who got canned along with Barr, Messing couldn't help but take another dig at the fallen sitcom star. "It is devastating that the cast & crew lost their jobs," Messing tweeted, adding, "Virulent racism is unacceptable to their employers. The whole thing is a tragedy."

Subtlety, thy name is not Grace Adler's twitter.  

Rita Moreno had a range of emotions

Veteran actress Rita Moreno, who also happens to star on a classic sitcom revival, Netflix's One Day at a Time, weighed in on Roseanne's cancellation with an particularly personal message. "You break my heart," she tweeted, before dropping the hammer: "You are a sorry excuse for a human being. How odd that you, as a comedienne, have forgotten then [sic] meaning of a 'joke' and a personal comment. Your meanness is staggering and will earn you a ticket to a sad, lonely and sorry life."

As of this writing, that was Moreno's only public comment on the matter. However, her employer also seized on the opportunity for a little shade-tastic self-promotion. "Reminder: @OneDayAtATime is a sitcom about a tight-knit, working class family that tackles extremely topical social issues in a smart and innovative way. Ya know, if you're suddenly looking for a show like that...," the streaming service tweeted the day after Roseanne got the boot. Shots. Fired.  

Joe Scarborough was ahead of the game

Perhaps drawing on his own experience as a television personality, and knowing that if he went on Twitter and compared an African American person to an ape he would also be unceremoniously fired, Joe Scarborough called for Roseanne's cancellation before it actually happened.

"There is no apology she can make that justifies @ABC turning a blind eye to this bigotry by airing another second of her show," the Morning Joe co-anchor tweeted. "Even in the Age of Trump, there are red lines that can never be crossed. This is one."

Scarborough returned to the microblogging site hours later to congratulate ABC and Disney for doing "the right thing." Tagging both organizations, he tweeted, "Thank you for putting values above money."

Aisha Tyler went high, then funny

Aisha Tyler co-hosted the CBS roundtable chat show, The Talk, alongside Roseanne star Sara Gilbert for six years, so it was no surprise that her take on the Roseanne cancellation came in the form of support for Gilbert. Tagging her former co-worker directly, Tyler tweeted, "@THEsaragilbert is an incredibly loving, kind, smart, thoughtful, hardworking person with not one bigoted bone in her body. The fact that Roseanne's reprehensible actions have blown back on the smart, hardworking cast and crew of the show is a real disappointment."

In the subsequent thread on that tweet, Tyler pointed out that there are "consequences for hateful speech and actions" and praised ABC for taking a stand.

Tyler launched her career as a stand-up comic, so there was no way she wasn't going to offer some thoughts on Barr's "ambien excuse." For her take, Tyler quote-tweeted Dictionary.com: "The name Ambien is thought to come from the word 'ambient' or similar words in French. Ambient does not mean 'prone to making racist comments,' but it does mean 'of the surrounding area or environment.' Of the reference site's unusually pointed burn, Tyler quipped, "The dictionary can't stop won't stop." 

Ricky Gervais makes a great point

Addressing both the freedom of speech and "double standard" debates, comedian Ricky Gervais engaged with other Twitter users who compared some of his own controversial material to Barr's tweet. "This wasn't censorship. This was business," Gervais tweeted. "She hasn't been prosecuted. She hasn't been silenced. She can carry on saying what she wants. It's just that her employers have decided they don't want to employ her any more. This is freedom."

Gervais also found a way to infuse some humor into the situation by tweeting an old TV Guide cover, featuring Barr and Bill Cosby with the headline "What to Expect from Your Favorite TV Shows," which would kind of be like stumbling across a copy of Investment Magazine with Bernie Madoff on the cover. Talk about a concept that hasn't aged well, huh?

Wait, Bill O'Reilly said what?

Even staunchly conservative pundit Bill O'Reilly couldn't find a way to support Roseanne Barr, whose television revival enjoyed a healthy fan base from those on the political right. O'Reilly tweeted, "Roseanne Barr's vicious personal attack on former Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett came out of nowhere and cost Ms. Barr and the entire staff of her program their jobs. @ABC/@Disney could not continue with the show without insulting millions of Americans."

O'Reilly expanded on his thoughts the following day in a blog post titled, "Racial Angst in America." He condemned Barr's comments, but somehow spun the whole debacle into the suggestion that "ideological loons" on the left would now feel even more emboldened in their assertion that the USA is "a country run by 'white supremacists.'" Um, what?

"The gulf between those Americans who see their country as oppressive and those who see it as basically noble, has just widened considerably," O'Reilly said. Yep, it's either that or a rich entertainer got fired for comparing an African American woman to an ape. Definitely one of the two.

Tomi Lahren, too?

Conservative commentator and Fox News contributor Tomi Lahren also surprised some with a full-throated condemnation of Barr. "What Roseanne said was wrong. I'm sure she knows that. She made a mistake. I don't know why fellow conservatives are playing mental gymnastics trying to justify it. Come on. Wrong is wrong," she tweeted on the day of the show's cancellation.

However, like O'Reilly, Lahren also retreated to perhaps more friendly ground to offer up a similar equivocation on the matter. On one of her "Final Thoughts" segments on Fox News, Lahren offered a rundown of what she viewed as similarly-offensive, yet unpunished remarks from other ABC-employed entertainers. She then confessed, "I think canceling the Roseanne show over a tweet may be a bit of an over-reaction," adding, "But that's not my call."  

Lahren wrapped up her final thoughts by condemning "those on the left, and in the mainstream media, trying to use Roseanne as a caricature of all Trump supporters," noting that "many of us have denounced what she said." While that may be true, there are certainly examples to the contrary...

Curt Schilling is Team Roseanne...we think

Former Major League Baseball pitcher and frequent Fox News contributor Curt Schilling came out swinging against the powers-that-be who canceled Roseanne. He tweeted: "The irony of Disney canning Roseanne while continuing to employ some of the industries biggest racist and race baiting frauds like Jemele Hill, Bomani Jones, Steve A Smith is not lost on most. Oh and at the same time hiring a scum of a human in Keith Olbermann." So, it's pretty clear where he stands on the issue, right?

Well, just a second, because he also tweeted: "She deserved to be fired, what she said was repulsive. I'm just tired of watching members of the media, minorities, who openly hate white people and blame them for all their lifes [sic] problems, be immune from that same public outcry."

Wow, we don't even know where to begin with that one, so we'll just point out that two days later, Schilling retweeted this effort to drum up support to get Roseanne "Back on TV!"

Ted Nugent's reaction shocked no one

In probably the least-surprising news of all time, rocker and conservative darling Ted Nugent didn't get what the big deal was with Barr's comment. "So Roseanne referencing a movie title is racist," Nugent tweeted, adding, "Lying dishonest soulless freaks from Planet of the Apes."

Of course, Nugent's disingenuous incredulity at the outrage over what was widely regarded as a classic racist reference is perhaps best framed by the controversy over his own similar commentary. In 2014, while speaking at a trade show in Las Vegas, Nugent referred to President Obama as "a Chicago communist-raised, communist-educated, communist-nurtured subhuman mongrel." So, he didn't even bother to veil his racism with a movie reference.

His apology for that remark didn't really help him much. "I do apologize — not necessarily to the president — but on behalf of much better men than myself," Nugent told radio host Ben Ferguson (via CNN). Does anyone need any more of Ted Nugent's thoughts on Roseanne — or anything? Nah, we're good on that, too.