Whitney Cummings Defends Roseanne’s Controversial Black-ish, Fresh Off the Boat Joke

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Whitney Cummings. Photo: Robin L Marshall/Getty Images

Before Whitney Cummings departed the Roseanne revival (and before the show was axed), the then–executive producer and co-showrunner spoke about one of the show’s most controversial jokes. As Roseanne and Dan watched TV, he mentioned that they’d missed “all the shows about black and Asian families,” referencing the sitcoms Black-ish and Fresh Off the Boat. “They’re just like us. There, now you’re all caught up,” Roseanne replied. Speaking on The Hollywood Reporter’s comedy showrunners roundtable, Cummings offered insight into how she considered that joke: “There are times where I’m like, ‘This is offensive, but this is what they would say when no one is watching and when they don’t have a bunch of lib-tard people controlling what they say.’ So, I found a lot of times my job was just to go, ‘If you feel that that’s what this person would say behind closed doors, then let’s go with it.’”

The joke drew criticism, while ABC Entertainment Group president Channing Dungey said Roseanne’s writers were “simply tipping the hat to those shows.” Cummings saw it as coming part and parcel with representation: “There are a lot of things where if this person was related to me over Thanksgiving, I’d yell at them about their beliefs,” she said. “But there are certain people who talk like this, and to not represent them scares me because then they want to feel represented and seen and heard and they go do it by voting stupid.”

Whitney Cummings Defends Roseanne’s Joke About Diverse TV