The Conners had not even debuted when the backlash began, with many fans of Roseanne Barr taking to the internet to voice their displeasure and predicting the show would be canceled quickly without its marquee character.
The rebooted Roseanne found a huge audience last season, but crashed into a wall of controversy after racially inflammatory statements from Barr led executives to cancel the show. There was ultimately enough momentum to bring it back without Roseanne as The Conners focusing on the rest of the family, but Fortune noted that it drew considerable backlash.
Many of the fans of the original Roseanne were attracted to its ability to counter the norms of television, presenting a main character with conservative views that reflected the real Roseanne, who evolved from a onetime presidential candidate of a far-left party into one of the biggest supporters of Donald Trump in the entertainment world.
As Fortune noted, many fans with the same political leaning were angry at the show for Roseanne Barr’s abrupt firing and for the decision to continue it as The Conners without her.
“That seems to have struck a chord with fans, many of whom (like Barr) are ardent Trump supporters,” the report noted. “The spinoff will continue to address contemporary issues, including financial pressures, unexpected pregnancies, aging, and in-laws, just as it did with Barr as its focal point and the same creative team behind the show’s successful revival will be in charge of the new show. But when ABC issued a tweet confirming its return, it was immediately flooded with angry tweets, presumably from the Roseanne faithful.”
Though the report was written weeks before Monday’s premiere of The Conners, the backlash continued as the show debuted. Many fans took to Twitter to predict that The Conners would be canceled quickly without the appeal of Roseanne.
I predict The Conners will debut Tuesday and will be cancelled Wednesday.— Adam’s Kranium (@adamklaughtalk) October 15, 2018
#TheConners is like Seinfeld without Jerry Seinfeld. Absolutely ridiculous. The Conners will be cancelled in a month.— Josephine (@notmyname02) October 16, 2018
Television critics take a very different view. Many believed that The Conners would debut to strong ratings, though nowhere near what Roseanne achieved last television season.
An ABC insider told The Wrap that The Conners will likely debut to around the same ratings as last season ended, which was roughly half of the audience that turned out to watch the season premiere. While that would not make it the rating powerhouse as Roseanne when it returned after more than two decades, it would put The Conners well out of danger of being canceled, despite what some fans may predict.