After the resounding success of the Roseanne revival, which premiered to 25 million viewers, and its subsequent renewal for a second season, the series has reclaimed its fan base and seems poised to reclaim its standing as one of the highest-rated sitcoms on television. However, the recent resurgence of pictures from a photo shoot with Roseanne Barr has some fans calling for a boycott of the ABC show, comparing the horrors of the pictures to that of Donald Trump’s severed head that comedian Kathy Griffin debuted on social media. But Roseanne co-showrunner, Bruce Helford emphasized that Roseanne Barr was a staunch supporter of Israel and said he imagined there was parody involved in the pictures. He urged fans to keep the focus on the show and judge it on its merits.
When the pictures first came to light, both sides of the political aisle criticized Roseanne for her decision to participate in the photo shoot, leading Roseanne to address it when she appeared on The Green Room with Paul Provenza in 2011. The domestic goddess said that she wasn’t making fun of [Jewish] people in the ovens. She said there were more holocausts every day, and that was what she was trying to say in the pictures. “It’s like baking cookies…That’s what I’m trying to say. Let’s stop holocausts.”
When questioned about the shoot, Heeb called itself a satirical Jewish culture magazine and said that it has included some other controversial material in its pages like showing Sarah Silverman behind a hole in a sheet and Jonah Hill dressed as Moses holding two kegs of beer as if they were tablets. The pictures weren’t meant to be shocking, according to the magazine but to “communicate something truthful about contemporary Jewishness.” The magazine added that Holocaust jokes are frequently featured in Hollywood movies.
Helford said that the show starts a conversation, and that’s what they wanted it to do. That is what he wants fans to focus on. But that’s not enough for some viewers who have said that it’s difficult to ignore someone who jokes about killing Jews in ovens. Many others have declared they will not ignore the photo shoot and that they will boycott ABC. Whether or not the photos have had an impact on the show’s ratings remains to be seen, although, the series has dropped to 15 million viewers as opposed to its debut number of 25 million.