It continues to feel a bit like ABC somehow dodged a bullet—albeit, one it had, first, carefully aimed at its own big dumb head—with this whole Roseanne situation, as critics, fans, and even members of their own corporate family express their vague relief that the network was willing to cancel its most successful scripted series in the wake of Barr making a racist Twitter joke, and frustration that the situation ever got to this point in the first place. Or, in the words of Black-ish creator Kenya Barris, addressing his network overlords this week: “You hired a monster and then you asked why the monster was killing villagers.”
Barris was speaking as part of a Variety “Path To Parity” panel today—alongside Transparent’s Jill Soloway, One Day at a Time’s Gloria Calderon Kellett, The Walking Dead’s Glen Mazzara, and Melissa Rosenberg from Jessica Jones—when he dipped into the topic of how Barr’s since-deleted comment—which compared former Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett to an “ape”—very nearly sent him into open revolt against his own network. “I was literally coming out of the show and I was like fuck this. I was going to go crazy. I was going to call my agent and go on Don Lemon and other shows,” he said. First, though, he made a courtesy call to ABC, when he was met with surprising news: The network was canceling Barr’s show.
Barris—who’s struggled occasionally with the network, which recently pulled an episode of Black-ish over references to the NFL player protests—says he appreciated the move, while also being annoyed that ABC gave Barr a platform in the first place, given that there was nothing especially surprising about her making a racist joke in a public forum. (Hence the monster comments up above.)
Not that the panel was all Barr talk; there was also some Jeffrey Tambor conversation, too, for anybody working to fill out their “Ugh, Hollywood in 2018" bingo cards. (To be fair, there was also plenty of actual conversation about the important struggle to bring more women and people of color into writers’ rooms, as well.)