The Conners began production on its third season on Monday, five months after the major television studios shut down production due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Production on The Conners reportedly started this week in Los Angeles, with the first taping of the popular sitcom scheduled for later this week, according to a report from Deadline. There will be a scaled-down crew, and for the first time in the history of the sitcom franchise that dates back to the 1980s with the original Roseanne series, there will not be a studio audience in the house.
In a plan that has been months in the making, producers will reportedly enforce stringent safety and health protocols that follow all state, local, and union requirements.
On her Instagram story on Monday, The Conners star Emma Kenney, who plays Harris Conner-Healy on the show, held up a script as she attended a Zoom table read with the rest of the cast. The 20-year-old actress wore a “business” top and casual pajama bottoms for the at-home rehearsal. Kenney’s post was the first picture proof that the cast is back to work, even if it is virtually for now.
Deadline noted that The Conners is believed to be the first broadcast comedy series to resume production on set. Some soap operas and reality shows have also resumed production.
The Conners was renewed for a third season in May. In addition to Kenney, the cast includes original Roseanne stars John Goodman, Laurie Metcalf, Sara Gilbert, Lecy Goranson, and Michael Fishman. It also features newcomers Ames McNamara, Jayden Rey, and Maya Lynne Robinson.
COVID-19 won’t just affect the production of the show. In addition to the behind-the-scenes protocols, showrunner Bruce Helford previously teased that The Conners will “absolutely” be dealing with the real-life coronavirus pandemic in storylines in its new episodes. Helford said the Conner family’s jobs could be affected by the pandemic, and the family diner business, The Lunchbox, could even face trouble.
“I would think somebody in the family would be taking the jobs no one else wants, [like] working in grocery stores,” he told TVLine.”They’d be taking jobs that put them at risk because they need the money, like most of blue-collar America.”
The Season 2 finale of The Conners, titled “Bridge Over Troubled Conners,” aired on May 5, but production on the show had ended before coronavirus caused shutdowns in the industry. The Conners left off with several cliffhanger storylines, including the possibility that the clan could lose their home due to patriarch Dan’s (Goodman) many missed mortgage payments.
The sitcom was announced for ABC’s fall schedule for Wednesdays at 9 p.m, a move from its previous Tuesday night timeslot. It is unclear when the new episodes will begin to air this fall.