The Conners star Sara Gilbert says the ABC spinoff was developed out of consideration for Roseanne fans. After last spring’s Roseanne revival earned massive ratings for ABC, the network quickly gave a green light for another season of the hit sitcom. However, series star Roseanne Barr’s headline-making Twitter post aimed at White House advisor Valerie Jarrett resulted in a swift cancellation of the show.
While the launch The Conners spinoff, which featured the death of Barr’s character Roseanne Conner, was a controversial decision, Gilbert told The New York Times producers felt the need to save the show in whatever way they could.
“It felt like people weren’t done watching the show and we didn’t want to take it away from them. We just didn’t want to end on that note. We wanted to try to preserve the legacy.”
Gilbert also explained that having Roseanne die of an opioid overdose was a way for the show’s stars to deal with the shock of the longtime ABC’s star sudden departure from the hit comedy franchise.
“This was an opportunity to honestly deal with loss. It allowed us, as actors, to process the loss we were going through. This isn’t the same anymore. Things have changed.”
After her Twitter scandal made headlines last year, Roseanne Barr publicly apologized for her online actions that led to the demise of the hit sitcom. Barr also voluntarily stepped away from all financial and creative control of a possible Roseanne spinoff. At the time, the 66-year-old actress explained that she agreed to step away from the TV franchise that made her a household name so that she could save the jobs of 200 cast and crew members.
But nearly a month before The Conners premiere, Barr spoiled the storyline about her character’s passing in an interview with Brandon Straka’s YouTube show, Walk Away, revealing, “They had her die of an opioid overdose.”
At the time, Barr slammed The Conners producers for killing off her character in such a shocking way, calling it cruel and “an insult” to longtime fans of the original Roseanne series.
“It’s so cynical and horrible — she should have died as a hero,” Barr said.
After The Conners premiered on ABC in October, Barr and her spiritual advisor, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, issued a joint statement to Facebook, reiterating that while they wish no ill will to the cast and crew of the spinoff series, they don’t support the “unnecessary grim and morbid ” turn the show took by killing off the Conner matriarch at a time when the country needs strong leading women.
As for the future of The Conners, Tom Werner, the show’s executive producer, told the Times that “there’s interest” in making another season of the show but that no deal had yet been made with ABC.
The Conners airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on ABC.