‘The Conners’: What Does Darlene’s New Boyfriend Mean for Ben?

by Lauren Boisvert

Darlene had a pretty rocky relationship with Ben on “The Conners” for a while, culminating in him refusing her marriage proposal in season 3. She turned to philosophy to get over her heartbreak, when all she needed was a good therapist. Darlene now has a new boyfriend, but there are a few things that don’t bode well for the character.

First of all, he’s only on for a three-episode arc. Nick, played by Andrew Leeds, will be her first relationship since she and Ben broke up, and it looks like this one might be a rebound.

There’s something to be said about Ben, though; he fits so well in the family dynamic that he just has to stick around. When Mark was exploring his sexuality, Ben handled that with such grace, steering Mark towards talking with his mother about it. He was supportive and did what he felt was right for Mark. He’s taken on a father-figure role without being overt about it.

For those hoping Ben sticks around, “The Conners” executive producer Dave Caplan has said Ben “fits into the Conners’ world so beautifully and brings something unique to it, so we’re not parting ways with Ben or Jay [R. Ferguson].” That’s good news for all the Ben fans out there, but we’ll have to wait and see how things unfold with Darlene’s recent boyfriend.

Why ‘The Conners’ is Still Struggling to Move Past Roseanne

“The Conners” was the replacement for the “Roseanne” reboot 4 years ago, but the show is still tip-toeing around the Roseanne-shaped elephant in the room. Dan Conner recently remarried, and he only briefly mentioned his former wife.

The explanation for Roseanne’s absence was that she died from an accidental opiate overdose. Since then, the characters haven’t really mentioned her at all. The show is trying to ignore its past, when the past is what made it.

Both “The Conners” and the original “Roseanne” dive deep into uncomfortable situations, and a lot of them are socially topical. The show deals with gender and sexuality, heartbreak and messy relationships, and being a single parent. Now they need to deal with death.

Executive producer Dave Caplan told TV Line that Roseanne’s absence was a big issue for the show. “That was a big topic of discussion in the writers’ room, about how much to have that discussion [in these early season 4 episodes],” he said. “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.”

But, as the show goes on, her absence seems like more of an issue than before. ScreenRant claims that the show doesn’t mention Roseanne in order to deny any support of Roseanne Barr’s behavior that got the “Roseanne” reboot canceled. That’s all fine and well, but when fans start noticing things like that, it makes the show seem a little awkward. It makes it seem like it’s hiding something.