Photo: Kevin Winter (Getty Images)

After oodles of controversy and ample speculation, the Roseanne-less Roseanne spin-off The Conners premiered on ABC last night, bringing with it an answer to just how the series would write off its one-time namesake. It was co-star John Goodman who first let it slip that the character would perish, but then Barr herself revealed on a YouTube show that the Conner matriarch would die of an “opioid overdose,” calling the decision “cynical and horrible.”

Now, with the show having confirmed both of them to be correct, Barr unloaded the tweet she’s likely had simmering in her drafts since first hearing the news.

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“I AIN’T DEAD, BITCHES!!!!” she wrote, somehow restraining herself from adding a QAnon hashtag to the end of it.

A few hours later, she followed that succinct statement with a much longer one, which she composed with rabbi to the stars Shmuley Boteach.

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“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,” it begins. “That it was done through an opioid overdose lent an unnecessary grim and morbid dimension to an otherwise happy family show.”

The statement goes on to celebrate how Roseanne has long “promoted the message that love and respect for one another’s personhood should transcend differences in background and ideological discord,” saying that episodes “represented a weekly teaching moment for our nation.” She calls the racist tweet—the one she doesn’t think is racist—that got her fired “an inexcusable—but not unforgivable—mistake,” and laments society’s lack of forgiveness. “The cancellation of Roseanne is an opportunity squandered due in equal parts to fear, hubris, and a refusal to forgive,” she concludes.

She’s not alone in her response to her character’s death. While we admired the poignancy and performances in last night’s premiere, other critics, like The Daily Beast’s Kevin Fallon, described it as “problematic, vaguely mean-spirited, and upsetting,” adding that the character’s overdose “could read as some sort of deserved punishment for a bad tweet, which diminishes the reality of addiction faced by many Americans.”

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Read Barr and Rabbi Shmuley’s full statement below:

“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.

“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.

“Through humor and a universally relatable main character, the show represented a weekly teaching moment for our nation. Yet it is often following an inexcusable — but not unforgivable — mistake that we can discover the most important lesson of all: Forgiveness. After repeated and heartfelt apologies, the network was unwilling to look past a regrettable mistake, thereby denying the twin American values of both repentance and forgiveness. In a hyper-partisan climate, people will sometimes make the mistake of speaking with words that do not truly reflect who they are. However, it is the power of forgiveness that defines our humanity.

“Our society needs to heal on many levels. What better way for healing than a shared moment, once a week, where we could have all enjoyed a compelling storyline featuring a witty character – a woman - who America connected with, not in spite of her flaws, but because of them. The cancellation of Roseanne is an opportunity squandered due in equal parts to fear, hubris, and a refusal to forgive.”

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