Twitter users were fired up in March when “Roseanne” made an apparent diss toward fellow ABC staple “Black-ish.” Now, the network’s boss has come to the reboot’s defense.
ABC entertainment president Channing Dungey said on a conference call with reporters that she was surprised by the backlash that resulted when viewers saw Roseanne and Dan Conner have the following exchange.
Dan: “What time is it? Did I miss dinner?”
Roseanne: “It’s 11. We slept from ‘Wheel’ to ‘Kimmel.’”
Dan: “We missed all the shows about Black and Asian families.”
Roseanne: “They’re just like us. There, now you’re all caught up.”
“I was a little surprised, to be honest, by the reaction to that line,” Dungey said Tuesday, May 15 according to Entertainment Weekly. “We felt writers were looking to tip a hat to those shows. It certainly wasn’t meant to offend. I do stand by the ‘Roseanne’ writers. I think they were expressing the point of view of the Connors, and what they would have actually said. We do similar things on our other shows. We’re very clear on ‘Black-ish’ about how many opinions are voiced by Dre Johnson.”
Still, many viewers have taken issue with ABC for allowing ‘Roseanne’ to be so overtly political (the reboot’s season premiere saw Donald Trump-supporting Roseanne at odds with sister Jackie, who’s a p—y hat-wearing Hilary Clinton backer) while ‘Black-ish’ has been censored. An episode called “Bedtime Stories” that saw Dre and his son, Junior, on opposing sides of the athletes kneeling during the national anthem debate has been permanently shelved.
Even one of the former writers of the 1988-1997 incarnation of the blue-collar family-focused series blasted the network for the discrepancy.
“That was too political for them and then they’ve got Roseanne spewing her love of Donald Trump on the show, and the real Roseanne spewing conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton and Pizzagate,” the anonymous writer told BuzzFeed Thursday, May 10. “I don’t know why they’re giving this woman a platform.”
However, Dungey explained the network has “long been supportive” of “Black-ish” creator Kenya Barris wading into controversial topics like police brutality.
“As you know, we’ve long been supportive of Kenya and his team tackling challenging and controversial issues in the show; and we’ve always, traditionally, been able to come to a place creatively where we felt good about the story that he was telling even if it felt like it was pushing some hot buttons, and he felt that he was getting to share the story in the way it should be shared,” she said according to The Hollywood Reporter. “With this particular episode, there were a number of different elements to the episode that we had a hard time coming to terms on. Much has been made about the kneeling part of it, which was not even really the issue, but I don’t want to get into that. At the end of the day, this was a mutual decision between Kenya and the network to not put the episode out.”
But viewers are still displeased with Dungey’s defense of the “Roseanne” joke and they said as much on Twitter.
“I really want to stan and support Channing Dungey but with her supporting trash ‘Roseanne,’ hiring problematic trash Ryan Seacrest and defending not showing the ‘Black-ish’ episode is getting on my nerves,” someone said. “SIS you better check yourself. @ABCNetwork #upfronts #ABC #ChanningDungey.”
“So ‘Black-ish’ makes white viewers uncomfortable, as shown by ABC surveys, and that’s a problem from the network’s perspective…” another tweeted. “BUT ‘Roseanne’ making people of color uncomfortable is NOT an issue, because of its the opinions of the characters? I call white supremacy out when I see it.”