Let's Try This Again: 'The Conners' Are Doing Just Fine Without Roseanne
So, where exactly did we end up? Who are the Conners without Roseanne?
We've all heard the expression, "The show must go on" and in Hollywood — or at least down at ABC — they're not joking.
Last night, The Conners premiered, and we were not disappointed! Even in the midst of all the behind-the-scenes drama, the former cast of Roseanne somehow managed to do a tremendous job handling the "situation." In fact, the new series also found a way to honor its popular, titular character for the generations of viewers who loved, and still love, the show's original run.
Here's what went down in last night's kickoff of The Conners, and why we think the spinoff has finally found a way to modernize and ground these iconic TV characters in our current political and social climate.
1. The Conners Without Roseanne
First thing's first: Let's talk about the complete absence of Roseanne.
You may have noticed Roseanne (Roseanne Barr) was completely out of the picture in last night's episode — literally. Looking around the Conner household, I couldn't find one framed photograph of Roseanne in sight! More than likely, this wasn't by accident. After Barr's racist tweet went viral, the show was permitted to go on without her and she didn't have any financial or creative involvement in the spinoff.
During The Conners premiere, we only felt Roseanne's presence through private conversations among the characters. In one standout moment, the Conner family openly shared their grief with each other in the kitchen.
Without missing a beat or getting too sentimental, the spinoff opened in true Conner fashion, with the Conner's complaining about the plethora of casseroles they've received since Roseanne's passing merely three weeks ago. Since some time has passed since Roseanne's death, the characters and the audience understand that it's okay to live and laugh again.
2. Marcy Bellinger: The Opioid Issue And The Pulse Of America
Sticking to the established storylines from the Roseanne reboot, Jackie (Laurie Metcalf) was informed that her sister's death wasn't due to just a heart attack, but rather an opioid overdose. This issue was something that was addressed in an episode of the Roseanne reboot, when Roseanne's knees started acting up. But, here's the clincher: The pills Becky (Lecy Goranson) found in Roseanne's closet belonged to a woman named Marcy Bellinger (Mary Steenburgen).
Dan (John Goodman) didn't take this information lightly and set out to publicly shame Marcy for having something to do with his wife's death. This revelation about Roseanne's death is a defining moment for The Conners because it enables the spinoff to discuss current issues facing America today.
When Marcy confronts Dan about why she gave Roseanne the pills, it all goes back to the cost of healthcare in America. Marcy lets Dan know that people share prescriptions with each other when they can't afford them, and that she gave Roseanne the painkillers without knowing she'd become addicted to them.
3. Becky Blooms
Watch out Darlene, The Conners has birthed a new era of Becky!
If the premiere episode of The Conners is any indication of how the rest of the season will go for these sisters, I'm all for it! Becky has finally found her footing as a character and holds her own against Darlene (Sara Gilbert). We've now established that Becky's the Blanche to Darlene's Dorothy, especially when Becky reveals she can't worry about "mom stuff" because she has a date, forcing Darlene to retort, "Can't you stay vertical for a little longer?"
No, but seriously, all Golden Girls references aside, Becky is no longer beholden to the established version of herself as the good girl from the show's original run. She's also not trying to better her finances like she was in the Roseanne reboot. Instead, Becky's seems to have embraced her life, and we couldn't be more proud.
4. Jackie Keeps It Real
Oh, Jackie. We feel ya.
As funny as Jackie was during the premiere, we felt her pain and how affected she was by Roseanne's death. From shampooing the couch to trying to reconfigure the entire kitchen into a triangular formation, we know these acts of cleanliness and HGTV design aspirations were just her way of working through her grief.
In the most heartwarming scene of the episode, Jackie had a meltdown when she couldn't figure out what to do with the corn pins. Darlene stepped in and Jackie revealed she didn't want to go back to her apartment because she still felt Roseanne's presence in the house. Darlene reminded Jackie that she could go home, get some rest, come back, and still feel the same way about her sister and the house. It's because of moments like this that we know the Conners still have heart and will be okay.
5. Dan The Matchmaker
When Mark (Ames McNamara) approached Dan about having to choose between two different boys to sit with on the bus because it means something, Dan hesitated and closed himself off to Mark. We've seen Dan like this before, especially during the Roseanne reboot and his adjusting to Mark's desire to wear gender-bending clothes. But, this time it's different. Dan's heart grew two sizes and he came back around to Mark, devising a "pros and cons" list. Together, they pitted Joey and Enrique against each other in order to see who's more worthy of Mark's affection.
What's nice to see here is that The Conners isn't trying to make every LGBTQ issue an issue. Some things don't have to become "after school" specials. They can just be embraced for what they are and moments like this, between a grandfather and his grandson, can exist on TV, no questions asked. With that, we'd like to welcome The Conners to 2018. They've definitely earned it.
What did you think of the premiere episode? Are you into the spinoff? Let us know in the comments.
You can catch The Conners Tuesday nights on ABC at 8/7c.