The Conners: What You Need to Know About the Roseanne Spinoff

Ahead of the series premiere, find out what the ABC comedy is going to be all about.

By Chris Harnick Oct 15, 2018 4:30 PMTags
The ConnersABC

Soon, America will really know what happened to Roseanne Conner.

The Conners, the Roseanne Barr-less spinoff of Roseanne, debuts Tuesday, Oct. 16 at 8 p.m. on ABC. The new comedy was born after ABC pulled the plug on Roseanne following Barr's racist tweet targeted at former Barack Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett. Barr agreed to have no financial or creative ties to the series. "I regret the circumstances that have caused me to be removed from Roseanne," Barr said in a statement when the series was announced. "I agreed to the settlement in order that 200 jobs of beloved cast and crew could be saved, and I wish the best for everyone involved."

The Conners: The Family Is All Smiles in New Portraits

Since the series, which stars Laurie Metcalf, Sara Gilbert, John Goodman, Lecy Goranson and Michael Fishman, was announced in June, speculation about what the series would look like and how it'd tackle writing out the beloved matriarch. Here's everything you need to know about the new comedy starring familiar characters.

What Happened to Roseanne?

ABC brought back Roseanne roughly 20 years after the series ended its original run. The return of the fan-favorite sitcom had huge ratings and it was quickly renewed for a second (or 11th) season. However, Barr tweeted. The final straw was a racist tweet about Jarrett.

"Roseanne's Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel her show," ABC's Channing Dungey said in a statement when the series was canceled. Barr said she was tweeting while on the sleep drug Ambien.

After cancellation, rumors swirled about a new series about the famous family sans Barr's character. It was made official in June when Barr signed the deal relinquishing creative and financial rights to the series.

How Will Roseanne Conner Exit the Series?

According to Barr, the character will die from an opioid overdose. ABC has not confirmed that.

"They killed her," she revealed on Brandon Straka's YouTube show Walk Away. "They have her die of an opioid overdose."

"I wanted to show [opioid struggle] in the show," Barr said. "But I was never going to have Roseanne die of an opioid overdose. It's so cynical and horrible. She should have died as a hero or not at all … It wasn't enough to [fire me], they had to so cruelly insult the people who loved that family and that show."

The network has said the family will grapple with a sudden turn of events in their lives. Barr has said she will not be in the country—she said she'll be in Israel when the show premieres.

Roseanne Will Be Honored

Executive producer Bruce Rasmussen told Variety the lack of Roseanne Conner won't just go away after the premiere.

"We want people to watch the show and see what happens and how we [wrote Roseanne off]," Rasmussen told Variety. "You don't want to be flip about how you do this. A lot of people cared about that character and it's separate from whatever feelings they had about the person and her political views and the things she said. We wanted to honor that character. People can have their opinions after that."

"What's interesting about the absence of the Roseanne character is that these other characters have to step up and fill a void. It puts them through changes that are interesting for people that know these characters. And even if they've never watched the show before it's still going to be fascinating to see how people adapt when something happens in their lives. Everyone has tragedies in their lives, or has someone they love leave them. And you have to adapt and you have to grow, and that's what these characters are going to be going through in an interesting way," executive producer Dave Caplan said.

Returning Faces

In addition to the returning series regular cast, Estelle Parsons is set to return as Bev, Jackie and Roseanne's mother, Natalie West will return as Crystal, Dan's stepmother and Conner family friend, and James Pickens Jr. is set to reprise his role of Chuck, one of Dan's friends. They'll all make appearances in early episodes of The Conners. Johnny Galecki is also set to return as David.

New Series Regular

Viewers will be introduced to DJ's wife, but it's actually a reintroduction.

"We're thrilled to welcome the incredibly talented Maya Lynne Robinson to the cast this season. Her character 2nd Lieutenant Geena Conner, whom a younger DJ was reluctant to kiss in his school play, comes full circle as his wife and Mary's mother, bringing back a little piece of Conner history. Yet, while Geena is no stranger to the family, viewers old and new will enjoy seeing how her ‘military-style' discipline meshes with the Conners' more laid-back attitude," Bruce Helford, showrunner and executive producer, said in a statement.

New Loves

While nothing has been said about Dan Conner dating, there are quite a few new guest stars poised to play love interests on the comedy. Justin Long will recur as a possible love interest for Darlene. Meanwhile, Steve Zahn will appear as a love interest for Jackie. When Galecki returns as David, he's bringing his new girlfriend, Blue, along with him. Juliette Lewis is set to play Blue. And yes, this is a National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation reunion—Lewis and Galecki played siblings in the flick.

New Theme Song

The Conners will get a new theme song. Linda Perry's We Are Hear company is behind the new song, a "subtle but effective revamp." Perry is married to Gilbert.

No More Trump

The Conners will continue to tackle hot button and political issues, just without mentioning Donald Trump.

"We are living in a time where people are very anxious and can't afford to go to the doctor and all that other stuff. So we're writing in the same way we wrote last year about the economic things. If some of those feel political, they're political, but we're not doing any more of the Trump stuff. It's more about working-class people and how they live their lives. If that comes off as political in spots then that's how people will perceive it," executive producer Rasmussen told Variety.

The Conners premieres Tuesday, Oct. 16 at 8 p.m. on ABC.

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