Utah native Roseanne Barr torpedoed her career back in May with a racist tweet, but her sitcom lives on without her. “The Conners” debuts Tuesday at 7 p.m. on ABC/Channel 4, and it’s the same family, the same actors, the same sorts of situations — without the character that used to be at the center of the whole thing.
We all know what happened to the real Roseanne; I’m not going to tell you what happened to the fictional Roseanne. I don’t believe in spoilers, and I agreed to ABC’s terms so that I could watch the first and fourth episodes of “The Conners” — promising that I wouldn’t even “imply or in any other way reveal what happens to the character of Roseanne Conner."
So I won’t. You’ll have to find out for yourself. It’s revealed pretty much immediately in Tuesday’s premiere.
I will tell you that if you liked “Roseanne,” you’ll like “The Conners.” I know, I know — there are people out there vowing they won’t watch because Barr was fired. Because they’re letting politics dictate their viewing habits.
But the “Roseanne" revival was never really about politics, once we got past the first episode. Yes, both the real and the fictional Roseannes were supporters of Donald Trump, but the show took on some very liberal positions.
And, at least in the two episodes of “The Conners” that I’ve seen, there’s not a hint of Trump or politics — although the show addresses social justice in multiple ways.
Here’s the thing. At its best, “Roseanne” was a comedy about a blue-collar family that had something to say about the struggles of the working class. And “The Conners” is exactly that.
John Goodman is still there as Dan; Laurie Metcalf is still there as Jackie; and Sara Gilbert is still there as Darlene. They were the best actors in “Roseanne;” they’re the best things about “The Conners.” And, smartly, they’re at the center of the successor series.
As was the case with “Roseanne” last season, “The Conners” struggles when the focus shifts to D.J. (Michael Fishman) or Becky (Lecy Goranson) … because not everyone cast in a TV show when they're 7 or 14 is going to grow up to be a good actor. And because their storylines are not as strong.
I can tell you that in the fourth episode, Johnny Galecki (“The Big Bang Theory”) returns as Darlene’s estranged husband, David. And that, for longtime fans of “Roseanne” who know David and Darlene’s history, it’s both funny and heart-wrenching.
No, I’m not going to tell you what happened to Roseanne. But I will tell you something far more important — yes, “The Conners” is still worth watching.