'I ain't dead': Roseanne mad about being killed off on 'The Conners'

Thomas URBAIN
Roseanne Barr's rebooted sitcom was abruptly axed in late May after she went on a Twitter rant in which she compared Valerie Jarrett, a black former advisor to ex-president Barack Obama, to an ape

Roseanne Barr's character was killed off on "The Conners," the spin-off TV show created after she was fired for a racist tweet -- and she is not pleased.

"I AIN'T DEAD BITCHES!!!!" the actress, known for her frankness, wrote on Twitter after the premiere of the new sitcom on ABC.

Barr sparked controversy in late May when she took aim at Valerie Jarrett, a black former advisor to ex-president Barack Obama, by calling her an "ape." The 65-year-old actress apologized but it was too late.

ABC swiftly canceled the reboot of "Roseanne," a sitcom about a working-class family that has returned to broadcast television after more than two decades off the air, scoring huge ratings and generally positive reviews.

Less than a month later the show was revived, but without its controversial star and creator, who is a supporter of President Donald Trump in real life and retooled her own character to reflect that view.

When "The Conners" premiered on Tuesday, with most of the original cast save Barr, it was revealed that Roseanne Conner died of an opioid overdose -- the character had been taking painkillers for a knee injury.

The action picked up three weeks after her funeral.

- A 'clearly permanent' departure -

In a lengthy statement issued by Barr and her longtime friend Rabbi Schmuley Boteach, she lamented the way her character died, saying it "lent an unnecessary grim and morbid dimension to an otherwise happy family show."

"This was a choice the network did not have to make," it said.

"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."

"Roseanne" offered the rare Tinseltown look at Trump's America and working-class life, along with its challenges -- including the lack of access to proper medical care that led Barr's character to take the painkillers in the first place.

Trump publicly weighed in on the cancellation of Barr's show but did not condemn her "ape" tweet.

Following Barr's statement, showrunner Bruce Helford justified the decision to kill off the character of Roseanne.

While acknowledging that her firing left "a huge creative hole," Helford said: "After much discussion by all parties, it was decided that we would have to make her departure clearly permanent."

"So in episode one, we mourn the loss of our matriarch. She deserved that," Helford said in a guest column for The Hollywood Reporter.

Ratings data showed that just under 10.5 million viewers tuned in to watch "The Conners," in line with analyst expectations, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Last season, "Roseanne" earned more than 18 million viewers for its premiere.