‘Roseanne,’ the Reboot: A Timeline

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Nov. 9, 2016

A new strategy

The day after Donald J. Trump was elected president, nearly a dozen ABC executives meet at the network’s headquarters in Burbank, Calif., and discuss a “heartland strategy” — their pursuit of an audience the network may have overlooked.

“We looked at each other and said, ‘There’s a lot about this country we need to learn a lot more about, here on the coasts,’” Ben Sherwood, the president of Disney and ABC’s television group, says later.

The strategy leads ABC — which found itself in last place among the four major broadcast networks — to reboot “Roseanne,” a hit for the network from 1988 to 1997, as well as the former Fox hit “American Idol.”

Channing Dungey, the president of ABC Entertainment, says of the network’s revised strategy: “We had spent a lot of time looking for diverse voices in terms of people of color and people from different religions and even people with a different perspective on gender. But we had not been thinking nearly enough about economic diversity and some of the other cultural divisions within our own country.”

Read more: “Roseanne” Reboot Sprang From ABC’s Heartland Strategy

May 16, 2017

The early response is … tepid

After weeks of reports about a reboot, ABC trots out the “Roseanne” cast during its annual presentation for advertisers in New York. The response, however, is not exactly what the network is hoping for. In their account of the event, John Koblin and Sapna Maheshwari, who cover media for The Times, describe the audience’s reaction to the reassembled cast members as “tepid,” noting that “advertisers were relatively silent” when the cast took the stage.

Read more: With “Roseanne” and Backstreet Boys, ABC Mines the Past

January 2018

The specter of Twitter

With the premiere months away, the show’s cast members and producers appear at an event for television critics in Pasadena, Calif. Roseanne Barr, the show’s star, is asked about her vocal support of President Trump and her plan to reflect her political views on the revived sitcom.

“I’ve always had it be a true reflection of the society we live in,” Ms. Barr says of “Roseanne.” “Half the country voted for him, half of them didn’t. It’s just realistic.”

Her use of Twitter also comes up. Ms. Barr has been known to use the platform to spread conspiracy theories and post various insults. In 2013, she made a racist comment about Susan Rice, the former United States ambassador to the United Nations, who is black. The tweet, which Ms. Barr deleted, called Ms. Rice “a man” and uses the word “ape” to describe her — a word choice that would come back to haunt her again.

In Pasadena, Ms. Barr says that her online comments will not be a distraction, because her children have locked her account, @therealRoseanne. She adds that she plans to stay away from social media in the coming months.

“I didn’t want it to overshadow the show,” she says.

Read more: Defending Trump, Roseanne Wants Her Show to Be ‘Realistic’

March 27

The premiere

The revival goes better than the executives had expected. At 8 p.m., the rebooted “Roseanne” makes its debut — and scores huge ratings. The great majority of viewers stay on board for a second episode of the show, a half-hour later.

Nielsen reports that 18.2 million viewers tuned in to watch it live — the highest viewership of a comedy on broadcast TV since 2014. When delayed viewing is factored in, the size of the audience reaches 21.9 million.

Read more: Review: ‘Roseanne’ Revival Wins Huge TV Ratings

March 28

The president calls

The day after the show’s premiere, President Trump calls Ms. Barr to congratulate her on the sitcom’s return and to thank her for her support. The president — whose obsession with audience size is no secret — is enthralled by the “huge” ratings “Roseanne” had received, says a person familiar with the call.

On Fox News that night, Sean Hannity congratulates Ms. Barr on her “massive audience,” and Laura Ingraham approvingly plays a “Roseanne” clip, saying, “Funny what can happen when Hollywood makes programming that’s not condescending toward half the country.”

Read more: Trump Rings Up Roseanne Barr After Her Show Is a Ratings Winner

March 29

The rally

A day after offering his congratulations by phone, the president goes public with his enthusiasm for “Roseanne” and its star while addressing a crowd of union workers in Ohio.

“Look at Roseanne! Look at her ratings!” President Trump says. He adds: “They were unbelievable! Over 18 million people! And it was about us!”

March 30

Renewal

Three days after the premiere, ABC renews “Roseanne” for 13 more episodes. The show is a rare win for the network — and a major part of its plan to escape the ratings basement.

Read more: “Roseanne” Is Here to Stay: ABC Renews Highly Rated Reboot

April 3

Jabs at ‘Black-ish’ and ‘Fresh Off the Boat’

In the April 3 episode, Dan Conner, played by John Goodman, makes a glib remark about two ABC shows: “Black-ish” and “Fresh Off the Boat.” The remark comes after Dan and Roseanne have fallen asleep while watching “Wheel of Fortune.”

“We missed all the shows about black and Asian families,” Dan says.

“They’re just like us,” Roseanne replies, before grabbing the remote and turning off the TV. “There, now you’re all caught up.”

The episode airs during a week when Kenya Barris, the creator of “Black-ish,” has begun talks with Netflix while seeking an exit from his deal with ABC. Mr. Barris’s dissatisfaction stems, in part, from the network’s decision to pull the Feb. 27 episode of “Black-ish,” which was said to examine American race relations in pointed fashion.

Kevin Yu, a writer for the Fox sitcom “Bob’s Burgers,” expresses his displeasure with the “Roseanne” episode in a Twitter post: “At the very least, it’s reductive and belittling, as if to say those shows are nothing more than ‘Black’ and ‘Asian’ in their existence.”

Read more: “Roseanne”: When a Punch Line Feels Like a Gut Punch

May 6

The star of the show

A year after her appearance received a tepid reaction at the same event, Ms. Barr is the darling of ABC’s annual presentation to advertisers in New York. She stands, center stage, before a cheering crowd at Lincoln Center’s David Geffen Hall and is the focus of the network’s hyping of itself.

Mr. Sherwood, the ABC executive, plays up Ms. Barr’s contribution to the network’s success. “If anyone came to play a drinking game for the number of times we mention Roseanne,” he says during his time on the stage, “you’re welcome.”

Read more: ABC Plays Up “Roseanne” and Product Placement at Annual Presentation

May 28

The tweetstorm

Ms. Barr embarks on a Twitter rampage, during which she refers to Chelsea Clinton as Chelsea Soros Clinton. The name is a reference to George Soros, the billionaire liberal donor, who is often a target of conservative conspiracy theorists.

Replying to a tweet about Valerie Jarrett, a former adviser to President Barack Obama, Ms. Barr makes a racist comment.

May 29

The end

Ms. Barr’s tweet gains wide attention on social media. Hours later, ABC responds.

“Roseanne’s Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel her show,” ABC’s entertainment president, Channing Dungey, says in a statement.

Bob Iger, the chief executive officer of the Walt Disney Company, ABC’s parent company, offers his support for the decision in a tweet of his own, saying, “There was only one thing to do here, and that was the right thing.”

Read more: ‘Roseanne’ Canceled by ABC Hours After Racist Tweet

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