ABC's cancellation of "Roseanne" on Tuesday – after a racist Twitter shouting by showstar Roseanne Barr – surprised a lot of people.
"Some things seem to be more important than money, even to a big company like ABC / Disney, and that's very encouraging," commented political commentator Van Jones on CNN . "I'm ashamed to say that: I thought she probably would get away with it."
NPR pop culture blogger Linda Holmes sounded equally surprised. "I said I would be shocked if they did something and they canceled the show, which makes me feel … there's a lot going on here," she tweeted .
Her surprise is not all that, well, surprisingly. The restart of "Roseanne" was a very profitable show. Its premiere attracted 18 million viewers, a figure that has grown to 25 million if DVR-delayed viewing is considered.
It is rare for a company like ABC to make such a bold move in response to a controversial figure. In the past, penalties issued by networks for comments or behaviors of stars have generally been easier – with some exceptions in the #MeToo era. Here are some of the best known examples.
The Food Network dropped Paula Deen in 2013, one of her biggest stars after she admitted in the past to use racial insults – especially the N-word. Deen's public image was further damaged in 2015 when a picture of her son in brown make-up was posted as "I Love Lucy" character Ricky Ricardo on her Twitter account. She claimed that her social media manager was responsible for the tweet and was fired.
Deen never returned to the Food Network, but she managed to launch a show on RFD TV earlier this year.
The comic's ABC talk show "Political Wrong" was canceled in 2002 after several major advertisers had commented on comments made by Maher days after the terrorist attacks of September 11
" We were the cowards, lobbies cruise missiles from 2000 miles away, "said Maher. "That's cowardly, stay in the plane when it hits the building Say what you want, not cowardly."
Although the network did not point to the segment as a reason to end the show, many believe it's an important one Factor was. Maher landed and started his popular show "Real Time with Bill Maher" on HBO next year.
"Duck Dynasty" was a reality show about the Robertsons, a Louisiana family that struck. It's rich selling equipment for duck hunting. The show was a complete success, breaking the records for A & E, reaching an average of 11 million viewers at one point. Then, Phil Robertson, the show's patriarch, gave GQ a particularly stunning interview in 2013, almost as high as the popularity of his show, in which he said homosexuality was a sin and compared it to bestiality. In the same interview, he said black people in Louisiana are happier about civil rights.
The story caused a lot of controversy, and A & E released a statement that Robertson was suspended from the network – just to reverse the decision nine days later. "Phil's comments in the interview reflect his personal beliefs, which are based on his own belief," the company said. "But 'Duck Dynasty' is not a show about a man's views." The show remained on air for another four years.
Allegations of sexual misconduct were treated differently from controversial statements. Jeffrey Tambor was fired from his Emmy-winning role on Amazon "Transparent" after he had indicted inappropriate behavior on set; Kevin Spacey, charged with sexual assault, was released by Netflix's "House of Cards" (there will be a final season without him). These penalties are probably harder because they are personal incidents that have identifiable victims.
But a show based solely on her star's tweets is unbelievably unusual. While ABC traveled the road less and completed "Roseanne" completely, this certainly did not happen quickly. Barr has a long history of controversial social media statements, including conspiracy theories such as Pizzagate.
Since the network announced the series' return, critics have said ABC should remove their show – and thus one of their platforms – in response to such comments. But the ABC leadership has basically dismissed it. During the press conference of the TV Critics' Association last summer, ABC Entertainment responded to President Channing Dungey's question about Barr's tweets by saying, "I'm just trying to take care of the things I can control."
Barr's tweet of being "detestable, disgusting and inconsistent with our values" takes on a shockingly different tone from the sluggish response of last year. It is cut and dry and leaves no room for misinterpretation: "We have decided to cancel their show." Whether this incident is a disruption, how networks and companies deal with racism, homophobia and the like, or simply remains to be seen.
ABC deletes & # 39; Roseanne & # 39; After his star, Roseanne Barr, set off on a poisonous and racist Twitter ride
ABC wanted a contrarian in mainstream TV. Roseanne was never right for the job.
A Roseanne Barr Tweet canceled her TV show. But she has a long history of online controversy.