Ames McNamara’s Gender-Creative Character Brightens Up ‘Roseanne’ Opener: Meet Mark Conner-Healy

Adam RoseABC

Roseanne’s opening title sequence has been released by ABC, and it gives nostalgic fans an updated peek at the Conner family 20 years after the original series signed off. Two decades after we last saw the Conners, the family has grown quite a bit. Darlene Conner (Sara Gilbert) now has two kids, Harris and Mark (Emma Kenney, Ames McNamara), while D.J. Conner has a daughter, Mary (played by Jayden Rey). And Becky…well, just wait and see.

While the new Roseanne opener is a throwback to the original, complete with the Conners gathered around the messy kitchen table, child actor Ames McNamara’s character makes it clear we’re not in 1998 anymore. Ames’ character is seen wearing a sparkly sweater, pink pants, and a choker around his neck, and that’s just the beginning for this non-conforming Conner grandkid.

Mark Conner-Healy’s affinity for female attire is addressed briefly in the Roseanne premiere—Dan (John Goodman) is not having it and is worried his grandson will be the target of bullies at his new school—and the topic is front and center in the show’s second episode, “Dress to Impress.”

ABC has released some new photos of Mark from the “Dress to Impress” episode, which you can see below.

Featured image credit: Adam RoseABC

Fans first got wind of Darlene’s unconventional son Mark last year when Fox News revealed that a casting notice for the Roseanne reboot described the new character as “gender creative” child who “displays qualities of both young female and male traits.” The Mark character, named after his late uncle (played by Roseanne star Glenn Quinn, who died in 2002), was later shown in ABC publicity photos for the Roseanne reboot.

Featured image credit: Robert TrachtenbergABC

Earlier this year, Sara Gilbert told Entertainment Weekly that Darlene’s son Mark is not a transgender character.

“He’s a little boy,” Sara told EW. “He’s based on a few kids in my life that are boys who dress in more traditionally feminine clothing. He’s too young to be gay and he doesn’t identify as transgender, but he just likes wearing that kind of clothing and that’s where he is at this point in his life.”

Indeed, young Mark’s explanation is that he likes to wear “colors that pop.”

Featured image credit: Adam RoseABC

In the new Roseanne episodes, Mark is clearly close with his grandma Conner, played by Roseanne Barr. Grandma Rosie seems to understand her nine-year-old grandson and doesn’t judge him for being creative with his clothing. She even shows up at Mark’s school to warn the kids to stop bullying her grandson.

But Sara Gilbert also made it clear that there is a lot more to Mark than his feminine clothing.

“I don’t want to pigeonhole him and say just because he dresses this way that’s the only thing about him,” the Roseanne star told EW. “He happens to dress that way but he’s an amazing, creative, brilliant kid, which you will see, and so is the kid, Ames, who plays him.”

Roseanne premieres March 27 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.