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Roseanne Barr responds to the death of her TV character

Roseanne Barr at a podcast taping at Stand

Roseanne Barr at a podcast taping at Stand Up NY on July 26. Credit: AP/Craig Ruttle

Comedian Roseanne Barr reacted Tuesday night to the off-screen death of her character on the premiere of "The Conners," the spinoff created in the wake of her firing from "Roseanne" over a racist tweet in May.

"I AIN'T DEAD, [expletive]!!!!" the controversial comic, 65, tweeted after the new series' premiere, in which the Conner family remains grieving over the opioid-overdose death of the family matriarch three weeks earlier.

It was unclear if the comment by Barr referenced herself or the character, Roseanne Conner. Barr has no financial or creative participation in the retooled ABC series, and the character was referred to as having had a funeral.

Barr and her friend Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, on whose podcast Barr has appeared, issued a joint statement Wednesday saying that despite wishing the best for the cast and crew, they regretted the choice to portray Roseanne Conner as deceased. "That it was done through an opioid overdose lent an unnecessary grim and morbid dimension to an otherwise happy family show," they said.

The lengthy statement added that "Roseanne" had "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."

It went on to say that "it is often following an inexcusable — but not unforgivable — mistake that we can discover the most important lesson of all: Forgiveness. After [Barr's] 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 hyperpartisan climate, people will sometimes make the mistake of speaking with words that do not truly reflect who they are."

While Barr apologized for offense anyone may have taken to her tweet about Valerie Jarrett, an adviser to former president Barack Obama, the comedian has maintained the tweet was not racist.

Meanwhile, 10.5 million people watched "The Conners" premiere, The Associated Press reports. The Nielsen company said Wednesday the audience was larger than any other ABC show this new season, either new or returning. It was bigger than any new show on any network, narrowly beating NBC’s “Manifest.” Yet it could not approach the 18.2 million people who watched the first episode of the “Roseanne” reboot last spring.

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