The reboot of Roseanne, now known as The Conners, took on the heavy subject matter of opioid addiction in America. While it was initially thought that the titular character of Roseanne Conner (Roseanne Barr) had passed away from a heart attack in her sleep, the coroner revealed that her death was the result of an opioid overdose.
With opioid addiction becoming a crisis in the U.S., many appreciated the way The Conners tackled the subject.
#TheConners using Roseannes departure to tackle the issue of opiod addiction which is rampant in this country is a very responsible way to carry on with the show
But there are always two sides to the same coin and many also found the topic of opioid addiction and death to be too heavy for a primetime network comedy.
What the hell would make the producers of #TheConners think hey, lets kill #roseanne off with opioids. So so so dark. People watch these shows to escape from real life. To laugh. This show is horrible.
Roseanne Barr on Tuesday blasted ABC for the morbid direction it took with “The Conners” — a spinoff of the “Roseanne” reboot that was axed earlier this year after Barr posted a racist tweet about an Obama-era official.
After the episode aired, Roseanne Barr tweeted, I AINT DEAD, BITCHES!!!! And Barr, along with her rabbi, Shmuley Boteach, issued the following statement:
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 Roseannes 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 anothers 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.
The episode also touched on the issue of affordable healthcare, as it was revealed that Roseanne received pain pills from a well-meaning neighbor. The neighbor, played by Mary Steenburgen, said Nobody can afford their meds. We all help each other… Rosie needed painkillers, I had some, so I gave them to her. The neighbor also explained how many in the neighborhood share drugs from heart medicine to anti-anxiety medication.
This is such an important realistic story about opioids and lack of access to prescription medicine. Kudos to #TheConners and nice to see @MarySteenburgen onscreen. @TheConnersABC pic.twitter.com/LUeH4d6Q9w
The original Roseanne was known for tackling important topics with comedy and heart, and it seems like that concept has carried over to The Conners.
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Tonight saw ABC air the series premiere of The Conners, a.k.a. What You Get When The Star Of Your Most Successful New Sitcom Does A Bunch Of Shit That Forces You To Fire Them, The Show. But while Roseanne Barr has been well and truly excised from the series that once bore her name—with ABC making it clear she wont profit in any way from the spin-off series—she may have still gotten something approximating the last laugh.
About a month ago, Barr appeared on an internet chat show, announcing how disappointed she was in the way ABC had decided to kill Roseanne Conner off: an opioid overdose, building off a plotline that gradually built up through Roseannes last season, in which Roseanne developed a gradually worsening addition to pain pills after knee surgery. At the time, Barr called the decision cynical and horrible, stating that it wasnt the way she wanted her long-running, groundbreaking TV character to go, while the rest of us tried to figure out if she was being serious, or just trying to kick up some trouble for the series.
But go that way she did, as revealed on tonights season premiere. At first, it seemed like Roseanne might have died in the way that so many absent TV characters (including John Goodmans character, Dan, once upon a time) have gone over the years: a nice, safe, off-camera heart attack. But then its revealed that it was actually the medication, forcing the family to grapple with the loss in a far less sanitized way, and the rest of us to deal with the fact that Roseanne was totally right—and that she totally shanked her old series by revealing, a month before the fact, one of the biggest of its tightly controlled secrets.