"Roseanne” wasn’t just a hit on opening night. The revived ABC comedy had legs.
The Nielsen company said Tuesday that viewership for the show’s premiere shot up to 25 million people when delayed viewing for the three days after last Tuesday’s first showing is added. However, just as "Roseanne" is basking in the glow of success, old photos of Roseanne Barr dressed as Hitler and baking "gingerbread Jews" in an oven have resurfaced.
According to Snopes, the online fact-checking website, the photos are from Heeb magazine, a now-defunct satirical Jewish publication that ran between 2001 and 2010 (and the concept was Barr’s idea).
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Roseanne has long been a controversial figure and once called Israel a 'Nazi state' before her much documented public metamorphosis into a staunch Israel supporter. Roseanne told a group of pro-Israel activists in 2016 she is now such a Zionist that "she might be moving" to Israel. In an interview with Haaretz in 2016, Roseanne even referred to herself as a 'rabbi.'
The photos were brought back into the public consciousness when The Hollywood Reporter asked Roseanne co-showrunner Bruce Helford about the images during an interview. Here was his defense of Barr:
“I know that Roseanne is a very staunch supporter of Israel and she has said as much,” Helford said. “I imagine there’s probably some amount of parody involved and all that. I don’t know the context of that so I wouldn’t make a comment on it. My feeling is that people should just watch the show and judge it on its merits. Watch the show without the accompanying background noise. Everybody, including Roseanne, wanted the show to be balanced. When we talk about wanting to open a dialogue in America, that’s something that the show does. We’re not trying to perform brain surgery or cure cancer. We all hoped that this would open a dialogue where people would start laughing at themselves a little bit, get a little less polarized and realize that this is a universal conversation. Lots of families find themselves divided on these issues. There’s got to be a way to talk and still love each other the way that Roseanne and Jackie made their peace [in the revival’s premiere]. And that’s really what we want to have come out of it.”
Barr also defended the photos in 2011 during an episode of The Green Room with Paul Provenza: “[The controversy] really pissed me off,” she said. “Because they were like, ‘you’re making fun of the people in the ovens,’ but I’m not making fun of people in the ovens There’s another, deeper layer to it. You know just the everyday. Moving off this Holocaust. There’s been about fifty of them since then. That’s what I’m kind of trying to say. Is like, Jesus Christ it’s so f–king every day now, holocausts, it’s like baking cookiesThat’s what I’m trying to say. Let’s stop holocausts.”