When four Emmy contenders came together to talk about TV comedy, it was inevitable the subject would turn to the racist tweet that cost Roseanne Barr her sitcom. “Dear White People” star Logan Browning summarized the situation.
“She messed up, man,” Browning said. “It sucks because there’s a lot of people whose jobs are riding on that.”
“Silicon Valley” star Martin Starr, “Loudermilk” star Ron Livingston and “The Good Place” star Kristen Bell rounded out TheWrap’s Outstanding Lead Actor/Actress in a Comedy Panel, held Wednesday night at the Landmark Theater in Los Angeles.
All the actors said comedies can shine a light on difficult subjects. But Browning stressed there’s a big difference between saying something on a scripted TV show, and sounding off on social media.
“I tweet things like, ‘Love is love,’ ‘My brother just graduated,’ and ‘Oh my God, Kanye, what are you doing?'” said Browning. “But you have to be careful because that it is your voice. And that voice has power. And you need to speak truth to power and not use your voice to be the detriment of some people. It’s unfortunate that there are so many people who got affected by that.”
Livingston, who will star on the upcoming ABC comedy “A Million Little Things” as well as the new season of “Loudermilk,” applauded his new network for canceling Barr’s show soon after her tweet about Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett, in which Barr said Jarrett was partly an ape.
“There’s nothing wrong with political speech, and comedy I think has a place for that. The Twitter stuff, that’s not political speech. That’s just hate speech,” Livingston said. “As someone on an ABC show, I was really proud to the network for stepping up and doing the right thing and doing it right away even though I know it’s going to hurt their pocketbook. There’s no place for that, and I can’t believe in my heart of hearts that she didn’t know that already, that she didn’t know better, so what are you going to do?”
The “Roseanne” revival featured Barr’s character occasionally debating more liberal characters. Starr, a fan of the original “Roseanne” series, said he had not seen the new episodes but appreciated that the new show was a forum for debate.
“I heard that this lived up to expectations and did something interesting in that she allowed characters to have different voices than hers,” Starr said. “So while her character remained true to her political beliefs, she allowed that to be a forum for opening up dialogue about politics, which currently is a very difficult thing, unfortunately. So for that reason, I think that it had value in the time that it was on the air. I’m not going to speak to what she did. She did that.”
Watch the clip from TheWrap’s Emmys panel above.