Canceling 'Roseanne' Is Expensive, But It Could Be Worse

By Conor White and Max Godnick

ABC's decision to cancel its hit series "Roseanne" could cost the network more than $60 million in ad revenue, according to estimates by Kantar Media. But keeping the show on the air after its star's racist rant on Twitter could cost the network even more money, analysts said.

"They're about to enter negotiations with advertisers for next season," said Jeanine Poggi, a TV reporter at Ad Age. "There could've been a lot of push back by advertisers in the next coming days, saying they weren't going to buy 'Roseanne'."

ABC canceled the show Tuesday after its star and creator, Roseanne Barr, compared the former Obama aide Valerie Jarrett to an ape on Twitter.

In an interview Wednesday on Cheddar, Jon Levine, media editor at The Wrap, said ABC knew what it was getting into when it decided to bring Barr's show back to TV.

"This is very typical Roseanne behavior," he said. "It's disingenuous for them to say this is really surprising or beyond any pale, that they weren't fully aware of at the time they rebooted her."

Poggi said it was always just a matter of time before the outspoken Barr went too far.

"The only thing that's surprising is that this didn't happen sooner," Poggi said. "It was more a question of when Roseanne was going to go off the deep end, not if it was going to happen."

When she did, ABC's executive president Channing Dungey condemned Barr's comments and promptly canceled her show. Dungey, the first African-American woman to hold that position at the network, was applauded by many for her decision.

"African Americans have had to endure racist tropes for so long, and they're not going to take it," said Natasha Alford, the deputy editor at TheGrio. "There's just something special about seeing her step into her power and reminding people that she does have the right to make that call."

Replying to a tweet alleging a conspiracy involving Jarrett, Barr wrote: “Muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj”.

Barr later apologized, claiming she was "Ambien tweeting."

But Alford said the original offense, and Barr's explanation, seemed to fit a familiar format.

"I think it reflects a pattern that we've seen at the very top of this country," said Alford. "Say something offensive, backtrack, double down, make excuses, and try to justify what it is you meant."

"Roseanne" reruns have already been pulled from TV Land and Hulu, a decision that Levine of The Wrap said wasn't necessary, and likely won't have the desired effect.

"The work should stand on its own, separate from the star," he sad. "I think there should be a place for 'Roseanne' reruns. We live in the age of the internet, the show's not going to go away."

For the full interview, click here.

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