The Conners, the Roseanne spinoff, premiered on Oct. 16 and the first episode confirmed the death of Roseanne Barr’s character.
They thought she had passed away from a heart attack in her sleep but the coroner revealed that her death was the result of an opioid overdose.
Roseanne’s sister, Jackie, said: “I just got a call from a friend in the coroner’s office. The autopsy found that it wasn’t a heart attack. Roseanne OD’d on opioids.”
WATCH BELOW: The latest on Roseanne Barr
The episode also revealed that Roseanne had multiple pain-pill suppliers and was stashing stockpiles all over the house.
Shortly after the episode aired, Barr took to Twitter to criticize the spinoff.
“I AIN’T DEAD, B**CHES!!!!!” Barr tweeted.
She also issued a more carefully crafted statement with Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, objecting strongly to the character’s cause of death.
“While we wish the very best for the cast and production crew of The Conners … we regret that ABC chose to cancel Roseanne by killing off the Roseanne Conner character,” the statement says. “That it was done through an opioid overdose lent an unnecessary grim and morbid dimension to an otherwise happy family show. … This was a choice the network did not have to make.”
The statement continues: “Roseanne was the only show on television that directly addressed the deep divisions threatening the very fabric of our society. Specifically, the show promoted the message that love and respect for one another’s personhood should transcend differences in background and ideological discord. The show 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.”
“Through humour and a universally relatable main character, the show represented a weekly teaching moment for our nation. Yet it is often following an inexcusable – but not unforgivable – mistake that we can discover the most important lesson of all: Forgiveness. 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. In a hyper-partisan climate, people will sometimes make the mistake of speaking with words that do not truly reflect who they are. However, it is the power of forgiveness that defines our humanity,” the statement reads.
“Our society needs to heal on many levels. What better way for healing than a shared moment, once a week, where we could have all enjoyed a compelling storyline featuring a witty character – a woman – who America connected with, not in spite of her flaws, but because of them. The cancellation of Roseanne is an opportunity squandered due in equal parts to fear, hubris, and a refusal to forgive,” the statement concludes.
Fans of Barr took to Twitter to criticize the death of her character with many saying the topic of opioid addiction and death are too heavy for the show.
Some people on social media said they enjoyed the spinoff.
The Conners drew a 7.5 rating/12 share, off about 35 per cent from the 11.6/19 for Roseanne’s premiere in March, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
The Roseanne premiere ended up with 18.44 million viewers and The Conners debuted with 11 million viewers.
In September, Barr told Brandon Straka on his YouTube show Walk Away that the writers of The Conners chose to have her character die by overdosing on opioids.
“Oh ya, they killed her,” she revealed. “They have her die of an opioid overdose.”
She admitted that she was unhappy with how the writers decided her character would die.
The actress said that she’s come to terms with the show moving on without her.
“There’s nothing I can do about it. It’s done. It’s over,” she said. “There’s no fight left.”
The Conners features the rest of the Roseanne revival cast including Goodman as Dan, Metcalf as Jackie, Sara Gilbert as Darlene, Lecy Goranson as Becky and Michael Fishman as D.J.
The series follows “the Conner family who, after a sudden turn of events, are forced to face the daily struggles of life in Lanford in a way they never have before.”
The synopsis continues, “This iconic family — Dan, Jackie, Darlene, Becky and D.J. — grapples with parenthood, dating, an unexpected pregnancy, financial pressures, aging and in-laws in working-class America. Through it all, the fights, the coupon cutting, the hand-me-downs, the breakdowns — with love, humour and perseverance, the family prevails.”