The series premiere revealed that Roseanne had most likely taking too many pills before going to bed one night and her health issues led to her not waking up the next day. The episode picked up the action three weeks after Roseanne's funeral.
After the episode aired, Barr and good friend and podcast host Rabbi Shmuley Boteach released a statement via The Blast on the tragic storyline.
"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," the statement read.
"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."
Barr and Boteach then go on to discuss "the power of forgiveness" and how it should have persevered here.
"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," the statemen read. "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."
They continued, "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."
Barr herself took to Twitter at the end of the series premiere, writing "I AIN'T DEAD BITCHES!!!!"
The series will reportedly deal with the aftermath of Roseanne's passing throughout its 10-episode first season. The spinoff was commissioned following Barr's racist remarks against Valerie Jarrett, which led to the Roseanne reboot's cancellation.
The Conners airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.
Photo Credit: ABC