During the pilot episode of the Roseanne reboot — which debuted on ABC to massive ratings this week — the titular star butts heads with her sister and other family members because of politics. The real Roseanne Barr, and other producers behind the revival of the ’90s sitcom, have said the show’s portrayal of families “agreeing to disagree” about Donald Trump and other divisive issues is realistic and important in the current political atmosphere. Fair enough: Listening to those who disagree with us and working to find a solution to our common societal problems that works for everybody is vital in a democracy, and the show, so far, has done a pretty good job of exploring those uncomfortable issues.
But when it comes to Barr herself, the actress has a long track record of troubling and dangerous beliefs and statements that really shouldn’t be overlooked, particularly as her successful new show has positioned her back in the spotlight.
While many have pointed out that the Roseanne Conner of the show’s original iteration backed a lot of more liberal viewpoints (i.e. abortion rights, same-sex marriage, etc.), the new TV Roseanne is a vocal Trump supporter, just like the actress who plays her. More than that, Barr has described herself as “a radical,” and though she’s deleted many of her scarier tweets (perhaps to prepare for the national attention to the new show), her loyal following of far-right fans on the internet and plenty of journalist-collected screenshots of said deleted tweets are problematic, to say the least.
On the same night the Roseanne reboot premiered, it appears Barr responded to a conspiracy theory-related tweet about Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg with the words “NAZI SALUTE.” The tweet was later deleted, but many screenshotted it, calling out Barr and ABC for giving her a platform. Before the reboot even hit the air, many were calling for a boycott of the new show because of Barr’s history of tweeting and retweeting far-right conspiracy theories and other questionable statements. The #BoycottRoseanne hashtag has been circulating for months.
According to The Washington Post, Barr has fueled and amplified online theories including the belief that Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich’s death was a political assassination the Clintons later covered up, and that Democrats were running a child sex ring out of a neighborhood pizza parlor in D.C. (aka “Pizzagate”). That second theory is especially disturbing because one convinced theorist actually went to the restaurant in question and fired a military-style assault rifle.
Showcasing a spectrum of political beliefs and prompting important conversations on a mainstream family sitcom is one thing. Giving a major platform to a woman who’s furthered the agenda of dangerous figures online and expressed hateful beliefs herself is quite another, and it’s something we all should keep in mind next time we grab the remote.