ABC Boss Defends Black and Asian Families Joke on ‘Roseanne,’ Insists Next Season Will Be ‘Less Political’


After defending a recent joke about Asians and blacks on the hit sitcom Roseanne, ABC entertainment president Channing Dungey promised that the show would be “less political” in its second season.

In a recent conference call with reporters, ABC entertainment president Channing Dungey defended a joke from an episode that aired several weeks ago. In the episode, the titular star of the show, Roseanne Barr, told her husband Dan (co-star John Goodman) that they had “missed all the shows about black and Asian families,” to which Dan deadpanned, “They’re just like us.” Dungey said he didn’t quite understand why the joke got some people so upset, Entertainment Weekly reported.

“I was a little surprised, to be honest, by the reaction to that line,” Dungey said. “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.”

Despite the defense of the joke, Dungey also insisted that the show would get “less political” as next season gears up.

“The show certainly did touch on some of that in the first episode in a very funny way, to look at the different political views between Roseanne and Jackie,” the exec said. “That said, having touched on it in the first episode of the season, I think when you look on subsequent episodes of the run, the focus is not really on politics and much more on family and the everyday trials and tribulations that the family faces that still bring them together.”

Dungey even allowed that Barr’s own outspoken political views may have overshadowed what the writers were trying to do on the popular show. “I do think there’s a little bit of that, yes,” she said to questions on the matter.

Perhaps because Barr had recently begun exhibiting what many consider more center-right views, an unusual number of viewers tuned in to watch the re-booted sitcom this season. The show earned 27 million viewers for its debut, a number that made it one of the biggest ratings-getters in recent TV history.

Roseanne has also held onto its healthy audience numbers making it the most-watched scripted show on television.

During the call, Dungey also touched on one other controversial move ABC recently indulged when reporters asked if she regretted canceling the highly acclaimed series Last Man Standing.

The successful sitcom starring Tim Allen as a conservative father raising three girls and running a business was canceled last season causing many, including Allen, to accuse ABC of sacking the show because of the conservative-minded political views often expressed on the series.

Highlighting ABC’s decision, this week Allen’s show was revived by Fox, a move the rival network took citing the success of the often conservative bent of Roseanne.

Dungey, though, defended the cancellation of Last Man Standing adding, “made the best decision with the information we had at the time…unfortunately, we were not able to come to terms with our studio partners … I wish them every success with their return on Fox.”

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.


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