The Conners premiered Wednesday night on ABC without Roseanne Barr, and she was (perhaps predictably) not happy about the fate of her character. Barr, of course, was famously ousted from her titular ABC show following a series of racist tweets.
The debut episode revealed that Roseanne, the Conner matriarch, died of an opioid overdose. Barr herself took to Twitter, writing "I AIN’T DEAD B****ES!!!" Barr also released a statement with her longtime spiritual adviser, criticizing the way ABC killed off her character.
In a statement released on Facebook following the premiere, Barr and her friend Rabbi Shmeley Boteach had this to say: "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."
They continue: "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."
Ratings of the show, which stars the remaining cast members from the original, including John Goodman, Sara Gilbert and Laurie Metcalf, fell hard (35%) from the massive debut of the reboot, but it was 4% higher than the series finale.