The twists and turns in this year’s real world of television programming would give any episode of Scandal a run for its money.
Surprises across the broadcast, cable and streaming industries popped up at breakneck speed throughout the entire year — many of them having to do with a certain ABC comedy star who shocked TV experts first by reviving her 1990s hit to astronomical ratings and later by throwing it all away with the tap of a keyboard.
Of course, the #MeToo movement and politics also contributed to the year’s most astonishing moments. Here’s a rundown of six big ones that stood out.
1. Roseanne’s Return And Subsequent Dismissal
The debut of the revived Roseanne drew revelatory ratings for ABC, at a time when so many broadcast shows struggle. The show finished the season as the No. 1 scripted series on broadcast, and ABC planned to use its smash as a launching pad for new shows during the fall season.
Then came the tweet. Star Roseanne Barr posted a racist observation on Twitter, and within hours, her show had been canceled, despite the huge financial toll the move took on ABC.
Many in the industry expressed shock at how quickly ABC acted.
“Roseanne was definitely the biggest surprise of the year, initially just in terms of the ratings they achieved and the way they were able to hold that huge audience through the first episode, and then of course everything that happened after the tweet,” says Karen McCallum, a research director with Nexstar Broadcasting Group in Albuquerque, N.M. “I applaud the way ABC handled it. They saw the problem, they addressed it quickly and decisively. I hope it sets a precedent for others that that behavior will not be tolerated.”