Back in May, the television industry was shaken up when the highly successful revival of Roseanne was abruptly cancelled following a racist tweet from the show’s star Roseanne Barr.
In the four months since, the rest of the show’s stars have spoken out very briefly or not at all about how they reacted to the news and how they have picked up the pieces with the new spinoff, The Conners. Now, Sara Gilbert, John Goodman and Laurie Metcalf are speaking out for the first time together in an interview with PEOPLE ahead of The Conners premiere on October 16.
“There was the feeling of not wanting it to go away until we were ready,” Goodman, 66, told the publication. “There was a debt owed to this fictional family. We want to finish telling this story.”
The actor added that he first heard of the tweet “in my kitchen and maybe my daughter or my wife told me,” he said. “It just didn’t seem true. Then it got true. I was consciously trying to accept it.”
Gilbert said she didn’t really know what to do with the news. “I don’t remember too much,” she explained. “It was more just, ‘Okay, what are we dealing with today?’ I was just kind of taking things one step at a time as they came.”
Meanwhile Metcalf was busy performing on Broadway when backlash from the tweet started an she said she heard about it, “on the news, actually. And I [first] thought, ‘Oh, I wonder if we still have a show.’ Because of how heavy everything came.”
Both Goodman and Metcalf each opened up about struggling with the cancellation once the decision was handed down by ABC because they were still coming off of the high of how well the revival had done and were already planning more seasons. “It was so unbelievable to do this show and it was like easy come, easy go,” Goodman said. Meanwhile Metcalf said she was trying “to reconcile myself to the show being gone. And you know, coming off such a high, it was hard to wrap our heads around.”
When the idea of the spinoff was brought around, Metcalf revealed that many were hesitant. “There was a lot of risk involved,” she said “But we all decided as a group to take the risk, knowing that we could be judged by deciding to come back.”
Goodman went on to say how grateful he was when Roseanne Barr made a deal to release any creative or financial ties to The Conners in order to give the spinoff a chance. “That was a very big deal to give us a chance,” he said.
As for dealing with the loss of not only Roseanne Barr on set but her character as the matriarch of the family, Gilbert said, “Any sadness that we feel over what we’ve lost we’re hopefully channeling in an honest way into the show. And our show has always been able to deal with heavy topics, particularly for a sitcom. It’s been kind of built into the mix.”
Now, with a lot of backlash on both sides, the stars are just hoping that audiences will give the spinoff a chance.
“We’re leaning on each other when we do this show,” Goodman said. “And supporting each other — that’s a very strong feeling among us. It’s different, but we can create something new from it. Let us finish the story on our own terms. Come along with us and see how we do.”
The Conners debuts Oct. 16 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.
Everything To Know About The ‘Roseanne’ Spinoff ‘The Conners’
12. What Happened?
Although the Roseanne revival should have been entering its second season and its eleventh overall, instead The Conners is airing in its place. Many of course know what happened, but the cancellation came on May 29, 2018 shortly after Roseanne Barr aimed a racist tweet at former president Barack Obama’s aid, Valerie Jarrett. In the tweet Barr said Jarret was like the “offspring of the Muslim Brotherhood & Planet of the Apes.” “Roseanne’s Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel her show,” ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey said shortly afterward. Although Barr tried to rectify her tweet with explanations and apologies, and even “begged” ABC not to cancel her show, there was no chance of the network bringing her back.