‘The Conners’: First Reviews Are In For ABC’s ‘Roseanne’ Spinoff Series Debuting Tuesday, October 16

"The Conners" stars Maya Lynne Robinson as Geena Williams-Conner, Jayden Rey as Mary, Michael Fishman as D.J. Conner, John Goodman as Dan Conner, Laurie Metcalf as Jackie Harris, Sara Gilbert as Darlene Conner, Emma Kenney as Harris Conner, Ames McNamara as Mark, and Lecy Goranson as Becky Conner.
Robert Trachtenberg / ABC

The most highly-anticipated new series of the 2018-2019 TV season, The Conners, will debut on ABC in just a couple of days, and television critics lucky enough to screen two episodes of the show posted their reviews online on Friday, October 12.

As most TV fans know, the new series features all of the main cast members from the original nine-season run of Roseanne, as well as the core cast from its 2018 revival, except for the show’s matriarch, Roseanne Barr, who was fired from ABC in May after allegedly making racist comments on Twitter.

John Goodman (Dan Conner), Laurie Metcalf (Jackie Harris), Sara Gilbert (Darlene Conner), Lecy Goranson (Becky Conner-Healy), and Michael Fishman (D.J. Conner) headline The Conners, and Emma Kenney (Harris Healy), Ames McNamara (Mark Conner-Healy), Jayden Rey (Mary Conner), and Maya Lynne Robinson (Geena Williams-Conner) co-star.

The esteemed TV critics viewed the very first episode of The Conners, “Keep on Truckin,'” and the fourth episode, “Tangled Up in Blue.” While they were not allowed to write about the cause of Roseanne Conner’s death, which is apparently revealed in the first five minutes of the premiere, they all basically felt the same way about the program — they love the talented cast and believe the writing is still strong, but they wonder if anyone will want to watch without Roseanne as the main focus.

"The Conners" — JOHN GOODMAN, LAURIE METCALF, SARA GILBERT, LECY GORANSON
  Eric McCandless / ABC

Variety said the Conners’ premiere episode does “its best to acknowledge the enormity of losing Roseanne,” but “there is just no escaping Roseanne, or Barr, completely.”

“As it stand now, the series has a fighting chance of becoming great on its own terms — but for that, the Roseanne audience will have to actually care enough beyond their basic curiosity to stay tuned and find out.”

Entertainment Weekly gave the series a “B” rating, mainly due to the “strong cast and sharply-drawn characters.” The magazine believes that the comedy could last for several seasons, but only if TV viewers are “able to let go of the past.”

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Meanwhile, Deadline said that The Conners is just another family sitcom “packed with jokes and one-liners you can see coming long before they land and full of scenarios you’ve seen a million times before on the small screen.” The reviewer misses the “bit of the crazy” and the “confrontational relevance” that made the Roseanne reboot such a success earlier this year, which is the new series’ “biggest problem.”

In its three-out-of-four-stars review, USA Today also mentioned the new show’s lack of a “sharp, controversial political bite.” However, the newspaper likes that the show kept Rosanne‘s “sarcasm, the blue-collar grit, topical issues, and schmaltz-free emotion,” and believes The Conners can survive because of the strong and beloved ensemble cast.

So far, the most positive review for the series came from Forbes, who called The Conners “brilliant.” The reviewer loves the blue-collar relatability factor and the storylines about contemporary topics.

“My personal opinion is that The Conners — with its inclusion of the same talented cast, writers, and crew — is hilarious, smart, filled with heart, and its handling of the exit of Roseanne Barr was done brilliantly, and in the show’s true fashion, in a way that touches on a hugely important and newsworthy topic.”

The Conners’ 10-episode first season premieres on ABC on Tuesday, October 16, at 8 p.m.