Stand-up comedian Whitney Cummings opened up about her role as a showrunner on ABC’s Roseanne reboot in a conversation with The Hollywood Reporter. News broke that Cummings would not be returning to the show on May 18, just 10 days ahead of the network pulling the plug following creator Roseanne Barr’s racist tweets calling former Obama aide Valerie Jarrett an offspring of the “Muslim Brotherhood & Planet of the Apes.”
Cummings described her role in the show starring famously conservative series creator Barr, telling THR, “I was sort of the progressive libtard in the room.” The comedy veteran described fighting for a balanced portrayal of the issues, advocating for a plotline where the Conners’ five-year-old grandchild would find the family’s lost gun. After causing controversy with producers and the network, Cummings’s plotline didn’t happen.
Soon after, 17 people were fatally shot at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Cummings told THR she had second thoughts about whether the story she fought for was a good idea after the shooting, saying, “I’m sure they would have made us cut it later anyway.” THR’s panel of television insiders weighed in, with Amy Sherman-Palladino (Gilmore Girls, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) and Justin Simien (Dear White People) emphasizing that the real-life tragedy would have made the story all the more important. But as student led protests for gun safety legislation continued to make national headlines, Cummings was reluctant to make the show seem preachy or agenda-driven, telling THR, “The idea was just to hold a mirror up.”
Though she ultimately left the show, Cummings says portraying a conservative — even offensive — family on TV wasn’t a problem. On the contrary, even though she might disagree with their points of view, Cummings says, “To not represent them scares me.” Cummings emphatically agreed with copanelist Alec Berg (Barry, Silicon Valley) who said, “To represent someone is not the same thing as endorsing them.”
Since the show’s controversial cancellation, Cummings warned against a spin-off because of Barr’s creator status, telling TMZ, “If it benefits her financially, it’s a bad move.” When asked whether she saw the fallout coming, Cummings paused, laughed, and said, “I don’t even know what to say...I’m just trying to heal from the whole thing and make sense of it all.”