The Conners will soon begin production on its second season, but before the ABC spinoff was born, a character had to die. Nearly one year after Roseanne Barr’s ill-fated Twitter rant cost her her self-titled ABC sitcom, her former TV producer revealed he initially thought it was the end for the Conner family.
In a new interview with Gold Derby, The Conners executive producer Bruce Helford said that he thought for sure his nearly 300 cast and crew members would be out of work after Barr’s racially insensitive tweet about former White House advisor Valerie Jarrett resulted in her getting fired by ABC. Still, with leading lady Barr fired by the network, Helford knew he had a great show and at least four other stars who could lead a spinoff.
Soon, The Conners spinoff was born, sans Roseanne. Helford and his writing team pitched a new series about how the beloved Conner family would cope without their mouthy matriarch. Helford told Gold Derby the writers decided to kill off Roseanne Barr’s character to set the show apart from its popular predecessor, which ran on ABC from 1988 to 1997 before its short-lived 2018 revival.
“These characters needed to be allowed to move on and grow, and they couldn’t have [Roseanne] waiting in the wings to come back. It required us to have a really honest look at what would happen if the mother of that family died unexpectedly.”
While Roseanne was cut from the Conner family’s future adventures for good, Helford said the former star’s character will never be forgotten by her family and that Roseanne will continue to be mentioned on The Conners.
“We never forget her involvement, we never forget what she started. We will probably mention her. Again, what family stops talking about the mother.”
Although Roseanne will always be a part of The Conners, the fallen actress was furious to find out her character was killed off by an opioid overdose. Nearly a month before The Conners premiered last fall, Roseanne Barr spoiled the storyline about her character’s passing in an interview with Brandon Straka’s YouTube show, Walk Away.
“They had her die of an opioid overdose,” the former Roseanne star said. “It’s so cynical and horrible — she should have died as a hero.”
Barr said the Conner matriarch’s drug overdose death was “an insult” to longtime fans of the original Roseanne series.
But Roseanne Barr’s TV daughter Sara Gilbert told The New York Times that producers made the right call by trying to save the Conner clan — and she says they did it for the fans.
“It felt like people weren’t done watching the show and we didn’t want to take it away from them,” Gilbert explained. “We just didn’t want to end on that note. We wanted to try to preserve the legacy.”
The Conners focuses on widower Dan Conner (John Goodman), his grown children Becky (Lecy Goranson), Darlene (Sara Gilbert), and DJ (Michael Fishman), his late wife’s sister Jackie (Laurie Metcalf), and their extended families as they live and work in Lanford, Illinois.
You can the family dealing with the aftermath of the death of Roseanne in The Conners clip below.
The second season of The Conners is expected to premiere this fall on ABC.