It’s been less than a month since ABC announced it was canceling the rebooted version of Roseanne following racist and offensive tweets from star Roseanne Barr. But now it’s looking like the show’s Conner family may make yet another comeback — this time without its matriarch.
ABC announced in a press release Thursday its plans to continue the show without Barr, focusing instead on the rest of the family.
“The Conners (working title), a spinoff of the groundbreaking family comedy Roseanne, has been greenlit to series with an order of 10 episodes for fall 2018,” the press release said. “After a sudden turn of events, the Conners are forced to face the daily struggles of life in Lanford in a way they never have before.”
The press release further clarified that Barr would have “no financial or creative involvement in the new series.”
The rebooted version of Roseanne dominated the ratings upon its March premiere, but Barr was constantly going rogue on her personal Twitter — apparently retweeting conspiracy theories involving school shooting survivor David Hogg and attacking the likes of billionaire philanthropist George Soros and former first daughter Chelsea Clinton.
In what became the final straw for ABC, Barr in May tweeted a racist insult describing ex-Obama aide Valerie Jarrett, who is black, as though the “Muslim Brotherhood & Planet of the Apes had a baby.”
The network’s decision to cancel Roseanne altogether came as a shock to many, but it seems ABC has found a way to capitalize on the sitcom’s popularity without the controversy of its former lead.
John Goodman, Laurie Metcalf, Sara Gilbert, Lecy Goranson and Michael Fishman all seem to have signed on to what is currently being called The Conners. In a joint statement of support, the fictional TV family said it was “happy to have the opportunity to return with the cast and crew.”
There are few details about how, exactly, the show will explain away the disappearance of its central lead. Even before ABC’s official announcement, Twitter users were mockingly speculating as to how the show might rid itself of the character of Roseanne Conner.
Some have wondered whether Barr could still benefit from The Conners, despite ABC’s assurances. As critic Linda Holmes wrote Friday for NPR, Barr “still makes money from the old seasons, which are more valuable the longer all of this is in the spotlight. What’s more, if she retains the rights to the character for any future uses (including bringing Roseanne Conner somewhere else), then this is all enormously helpful to her prospects, compared to, say, putting the entire show in a great big bag, setting it on fire and throwing it into a ravine.”
But the question is just how long the Conners will actually stay in the spotlight — and whether this planned spinoff of a reboot will prove to be the success the network is hoping for.