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Bill Maher Discusses Roseanne Barr’s ‘Mental Issues’ and How ‘The Affair’ Relates to Chloe Dykstra and Chris Hardwick

Maher sat down for a candid interview with Entertainment Weekly ahead of his new HBO stand-up special "Live From Oklahoma."

Bill Maher

Bill Maher

Brian To/Variety/REX/Shutterstock

Bill Maher’s “Live From Oklahoma” debuts on HBO next month and marks the comedian’s 11th stand-up special for the network. The “Real Time” host joined Entertainment Weekly for an interview ahead of the special’s debut and got candid on a wide range of pop culture topics, including Roseanne Barr’s infamous firing from ABC and Chloe Dykstra’s harassment accusations against Chris Hardwick.

When asked by Entertainment Weekly if Roseanne Barr will ever return to work for a major media company, Maher said it’s next to impossible. “No,” he answered. “She should enjoy her macadamia farm.” Maher is friends with Barr, who was fired from her eponymous ABC series after posting a racist tweet, and he said he was partly sympathetic to her because she is “mentally problematic.” Make no mistake, Maher finds Barr’s tweet “abhorrent,” but he does think more people should understand Barr is mentally ill.

“We’ve all known this for 30 years, that she is mentally, I don’t know what the word is, problematic? She’s had mental issues,” Maher said. “I don’t know if you read Michael Moore’s column that he wrote about her, but he reminded us all that she was in a horrible car accident when she was a child and has never really been completely the same since. She told us back in the ’90s she had multiple personalities.”

“So, my point is, no one would ever hire her again because they thought that issue had gone away,” he continued. “But that issue has never gone away, and never will go away, and so they know that if they hire her again, it’ll just happen again. You can get Roseanne to say, ‘I’ll never do it again,’ but you can’t get the other six personalities to agree.”

While touching on the sexual harassment allegations against Chris Hardwick, Maher evoked the Showtime drama series “The Affair.” Chloe Dykstra, Hardwick’s ex-girlfriend, published an essay June 15 detailing an emotionally and physically abusive relationship. Dykstra did not mention Hardwick by name, but that didn’t stop Hardwick from releasing a statement denying her claims.

“None of us really knows what a person is like inside of a relationship. So, I don’t know,” Maher said when asked about the accusations facing Hardwick. “I mean, when you read her accounting of the relationship, it certainly seems believable. I’m sure he could write one and that might sound believable to me too. The oldest cliché in the world is that every story has three sides: Her version, his version, and the truth.”

Maher then brought up the Showtime series. Episodes of “The Affair” are split between the different perspectives of its main characters. During the first season, viewers would spend the first 30 minutes of an episode with Ruth Wilson’s character and the last 30 minutes seeing the same events from the perspective of Dominic West’s character. The series depicts “how differently people remember the exact same situation,” Maher said, which is something he thinks about when a #MeToo story has only one accuser.

“It’s got to be different when you have 30 accusers than when you have one,” Maher said. “When it’s a Bill Cosby, when it’s a Harvey Weinstein, when it’s any of these situations where dozens and dozens of people come forward, then it’s almost preposterous to say, ‘Well, there’s nothing to see here.’ But when it’s one person, I have no idea.”

“It’s probably wrong to condemn someone based on one person,” he continued, “because relationships touch our rawest nerves, and people then sometimes do remember things wrong, or sometimes have personal revenge motivations. We just don’t know. Should we believe the woman? Yes, of course. But also every case is an individual case. I don’t think anyone should be arguing that women, ethereal creatures though they are, are infallible.”

Maher’s “Live From Oklahoma” special airs July 11 on HBO. Head over to Entertainment Weekly to read his interview in its entirety.

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