Spoiler alert: This article contains spoilers for The Conners episode “Lanford, Toilet of Sin.”
The Conners fans are reacting to the appearance of a new character played by a surprising guest star. On the most recent episode of ABC’s Roseanne spinoff, Paul Reubens, aka “Pee-wee Herman,” turned up as an unlikely local hero who may have saved the Lunchbox.
As previously shared by The Inquisitr, Reubens was listed as a guest star in the episode in the role of Sandy Bitensky, but no information was given about his character. It turns out that Sandy is a local Lanford historian who stopped in to do a write-up about the reopening of the Conner clan’s former eatery, the Lanford Lunchbox.
Not only did Reubens have a fairly significant role in the episode, but his character ultimately saved the doomed business by basically writing a “love letter” to the good people of Lanford, asking them to pitch in to help a broke Jackie (Laurie Metcalf) get the place back up and running.
In a clip from the episode posted on the official Conners Instagram page, fans did a double-take as they realized it was Reubens in the scene.
“Good to see Pee-wee Herman. Welcome to ‘The Conners,'” a viewer wrote.
“Yay, Paul Reubens!” another added.
But others referenced Reubens’ past legal troubles from nearly 30 years ago. In 1991, Reubens gained tabloid notoriety when he was arrested for indecent exposure outside of a bathroom at a Florida movie theater, according to Rolling Stone. He was 38-years-old at the time.
“Stay out of the bathroom Pee-wee,” one Conners fan wrote.
It’s not a huge surprise that some Conners fans took issue with Reubens’ guest role one year after original series star Roseanne Barr was fired from her own show for posting inappropriate tweets.
In the comments section to a teaser about the episode on the official Pee-wee Herman Instagram page, several fans said that they are boycotting the show over Roseanne’s firing. But others were happy that at least one ’80s superstar was back on TV.
“Hey no Rosanne but at least Pee-wee is on it,” a fan wrote.
Reubens shot to fame in the early 1980s after starring in an HBO special as his childlike character Pee-wee Herman. The actor became a cult favorite and went on to star in the big-screen hits Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985) and Big Top Pee-wee (1988). He also scored a CBS Saturday morning TV show, Pee-wee’s Playhouse, which aired from 1986-1990. After his arrest in 1991, Reubens took some time away from the spotlight.
In recent years, Reubens has made an acting comeback. In 2016, he starred in a Netflix special. And while his Pee-wee Herman character is no longer his main persona, Reubens, now 67, has appeared on 30 Rock, The Blacklist, Gotham and more. He also has logged a long list of voice roles, per IMDB.
There is no word if Reubens’ role on The Conners will be a recurring one, but his Lanford-based character is now a hometown hero.