Nation & World

Will 'Roseanne' survive boycott tied to star's deleted tweets, controversial past?

Roseanne Season 10 (Official Trailer)

Some things aren’t meant to change. The iconic award-winning comedy series Roseanne returns for a tenth season with the entire original cast, including both Beckys (right).
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Some things aren’t meant to change. The iconic award-winning comedy series Roseanne returns for a tenth season with the entire original cast, including both Beckys (right).

One week ago tonight, a whopping 18 million people watched the comeback of the "Roseanne" show featuring its Trump-loving star, Roseanne Barr.

President Donald Trump quickly tied himself to the show's success, calling to congratulate Barr on the show's ratings the next day and telling a rally of his supporters in Ohio two days later the ratings were high because the show was "about us."

Trump supporters cheered that finally they have a TV show to call their own.

Sara Gilbert, who has returned to the show as both cast member and an executive producer, seemingly tried to unhitch the show from the Trump train, emphasizing on "Watch What Happens Live" last week that the show is not political.

Trump will not be mentioned by name at all this season, Gilbert said, pointing out "the Conners aren’t Trump supporters. Roseanne’s character is a Trump supporter — she’s the only one — and we never say his name, actually, in the show."

But some of the show's critics don't like "Roseanne" because of Barr's politics.

Since last week, people have begun revisiting and paying close attention to her political activities off-screen, especially her tweets, and calling for a boycott of the show.

Boycott efforts began online before the show debuted and have now given rise to a number of Twitter hashtags, including #BoycottRoseanne and #BoycottRoseanneAdvertisers.

"In today's America, where activism is on the rise — Black Lives Matter, immigrant rights, protests against gun violence — ABC shouldn't be surprised if it sees a boycott of the show, targeting advertisers to take a stand on Barr," writes Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, columnist for The Daily Beast and host of a daily radio show on SiriusXM.

"Trump and ABC executives may not care about Barr's past views, but I'll bet advertisers will."

In the hours before the show debuted on Tuesday, Barr stirred up controversy for appearing to promote a far-right conspiracy theory about Parkland shooting survivor and student activist David Hogg, tweeting the words "NAZI SALUTE" to a Twitter user who tagged Hogg in a tweet.

Barr quickly deleted the tweet, which seemed to reference the rumor that Hogg raised a Nazi salute at the March for Our Lives rally in Washington. Then on Wednesday she tweeted that the photo was "doctored" and that Hogg "was NOT giving the nazi salute!"

On Friday, Barr tweeted support of another right-wing conspiracy theory that alleges high-profile Democrats and other famous people are involved in child sex-trafficking rings.

"President Trump has freed so many children held in bondage to pimps all over this world. Hundreds each month. He has broken up trafficking rings in high places everywhere. notice that. I disagree on some things, but give him benefit of doubt-4 now," Barr tweeted.

A lot of people had no idea what she was talking about.

Maggie Haberman, White House correspondent for The New York Times, retweeted Barr with a simple, "What?"

Barr deleted that tweet as well.

Her critics have also resurrected a controversial photo shoot she did in 2009 for Heeb magazine, a now-defunct satirical Jewish publication, in which she depicted Hitler in drag as a Jewish woman baking human-shaped cookies.

The author of the story the photos accompanied wrote that Barr asked to dress up like Hitler for the photo spread because she (jokingly?) believes she is Hitler reincarnated. Heeb defended the photos as satirical and challenging preconceptions, according to Snopes.

Barr told one interviewer that criticism of the photos "really p**ed 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."

When comedian Sarah Silverman tweeted praise of the "Roseanne" reboot last week, she sparked a debate among several of her comedic colleagues, including Kumail Nanjiani and Billy Eichner, about separating artists from their politics, according to USA TODAY.

"Sarah, you know I love you & respect you. I believe who can bring themselves to watch what art is a subjective thing. I can't bring myself to watch a person who mocks teens whose friends were murdered, who traffics in conspiracy theories that damage our world & reality," Nanjiani, star of HBO's "Silicon Valley," tweeted at Silverman.

Eichner tweeted that he won't watch the show for the same reasons.

"She's dangerous and demented and the success of the show will only help embolden her, increase and normalize her platform," Eichner tweeted. "I loved the show as a kid but plenty of other shows to watch now."

Model Chrissy Teigen also said she watched the old "Roseanne" when she was growing up but won't watch the reboot because of Barr's politics. Teigen criticized Barr after the comedian's tweet about Hogg.

"It is hard for me to support somebody personally that has such wildly different — they're not even different views," Teigen told the Associated Press. "It just comes down to a humanity standpoint. ... But it's hard."

Only the coming weeks will reveal whether a "Roseanne" boycott ever gets off the ground.

There are 25 million reasons why it wouldn't.

In the three days after the season premiere, an additional 6.6 million people watched it on DVR or on Hulu or ABC Streaming, bringing total viewership to an eye-popping 25 million. The show has already been renewed for an 11th season.

"Roseanne’s staggering success also illuminates a truth that other shows have been reluctant to acknowledge: Trump supporters long to see themselves represented in a more flattering light on TV," writes Forbes.

"Among the contingent of vocal Trump supporters in Hollywood, Barr is arguably one of the most famous, and Roseanne’s latest series premiere embraced America’s tumultuous political climate by pitting its pro-Trump star against her decidedly anti-Trump sister, Jackie. In a time where many TV shows portray Trump supporters as bigoted caricatures of themselves, Roseanne strove for a more nuanced depiction.

"So far, the decision has proven a monstrous success. The only question now is how much of its massive initial audience Roseanne can retain as it heads into its second week."

"Roseanne" airs Tuesdays at 7 p.m. on ABC.

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