The Conners will have one less cast member for Season 2. The second season of the Roseanne spinoff will feature DJ Conner (Michael Fishman) as a single dad as his wife departs the show, TV Line reports.
The news comes as cast member Maya Lynne Robinson, who plays Geena — DJ’s wife and mother of their daughter, Mary (Jayden Rey) — moves on to a full-time role on the new CBS sitcom The Unicorn. Instead of recasting The Conners character for a third time, Geena, a 2nd Lieutenant in the Army, will be called back for duty.
Conners showrunner Bruce Helford said the decision to temporarily write Robinson’s character out seemed like the best solution for the already supersized cast.
“Geena has been redeployed to Afghanistan. DJ will be back to being a single dad and needing his family’s help in raising Mary.”
Helford added that he hopes that Robinson will be able to make an occasional guest appearance on The Conners if her Unicorn filming schedule allows it, hence the decision to not recast the role yet again. Fans may recall that before Robinson landed the role of Geena on The Conners, actress Xosha Roquemore played the character in one episode of the Roseanne revival.
Fans of the original Roseanne show know the backstory on Geena, who was a classmate of DJ Conner’s back in the day. The character originated by Rae’Ven Larrymore Kelly first appeared in the 1994 Roseanne episode “White Men Can’t Kiss.” In the classic episode, DJ refused to kiss Geena in the school play because she was black. The episode was praised for its handling of racism.
Original series star Roseanne Barr told The Hollywood Reporter it was important for her to resurrect the Geena character for the Roseanne revival and have DJ marry and have kids with her.
“That was something that I always wanted to do because of DJ not kissing a black girl [in season seven]. So that’s important to me,” Barr told THR last year. “I like diversity.”
The departure of Geena Conner comes one year after Barr’s character, matriarch Roseanne Conner, was killed off of the ABC spinoff via an accidental opioid overdose. While it sounds like Conners characters are dropping like flies, fans can be comforted by the fact that a new family member will make his or her debut on the show’s Season 2 premiere when Becky Conner (Lecy Goranson) gives birth to her first child.
The Conners Season 2 premieres Tuesday, September 24 at 8 p.m. on ABC.