‘The Conners’ Are Still Struggling to Move Past Roseanne

by Josh Lanier

Four seasons after ABC canceled the reboot of Roseanne and created The Conners in its place, the sequel show has struggled to address its past. Recently, Dan Conner, Roseanne’s former husband in the show, remarried, but there was little mention of her in the episode. So, how do you solve a problem like Roseanne?

Screenrant recently posited that The Conners continues to bungle the transition away from Roseanne because it tries to tiptoe around or ignore the show’s past. For instance, the website notes, Dan only obliquely references his former wife in an episode when he gets remarried.

The Conners — much like Roseanne — doesn’t shy away from the uncomfortable. The show’s humor lies in its search for meaning amongst the struggle. So, Dan’s wedding to Louise would be the perfect place to dive into that uncomfortable past. The tornado in the episode seemed the perfect metaphor for the situation the show is in.

“The decision to have a tornado threaten the ceremony felt like the perfect opportunity for a Roseanne joke, given the anarchic influence Barr’s character was on the rest of the Conners throughout her tenure on the show,” ScreenRant notes.

In canon, Roseanne died of an accidental opioid overdose. The show gave her death a backstory earlier this season. But in the real world, Roseanne Barr posted some racist tweets and caused ABC to cancel Roseanne and retool it as The Conners. This kept the show from speaking kindly of the character for fear that it could come off as a defense of the person, ScreenRant believes.

How can the show embrace Roseanne Conner while trying to distance itself from Roseanne Barr? How do you solve a problem like Roseanne?

‘The Conners’ Executive Producers Talk Life After ‘Roseanne’

The showrunners say it’s something they’ve addressed often. Executive producer Dave Caplan told TVLine that the show tried to lay the groundwork in the first season to allow The Conners to move past Roseanne. And as they write more episodes, it’s always something they discuss.

“That was a big topic of discussion in the writers’ room, about how much to have that discussion [in these early season 4 episodes]. We took such care during the whole first season after the character wasn’t in the show anymore, and we’ve never shied away from discussing Roseanne Conner’s impact on the family.”

Though the showrunners believe that they’ve allowed John Goodman’s Dan Conner enough time to grieve and move on with his life as a widower.

“Dan had such a difficult time dealing with her death and moving on, and we felt like we were very thorough there, and very respectful of both the Roseanne character and of Dan’s feelings,” Caplan continued.

But it’s an ongoing concern. And one that the show will continue to address as issues arise within the story, showrunner Bruce Helford added.

“And by the way, we’re not done discussing that,” Helford adds. “There are things that come up as Louise moves into the house, as it is appropriate and as it feels real.”