'The Conners' Promotes Darlene's Love Interest To Series Regular For Season 3

The Conners will welcome a new full-time cast member for Season 3 of the ABC sitcom.

Jay R. Ferguson, the actor who played Darlene Conner's (Sara Gilbert) boss-turned-boyfriend, Ben, in the first two seasons of the Roseanne spinoff, will be a series regular in the upcoming season of the show, according to a new report by TVLine.

It's not a huge surprise that viewers will see more of the Ben character. At the end of Season 2, Darlene and her boyfriend scrapped plans to move into their own pad together so that they could help out her dad, Dan (John Goodman), financially after he missed multiple mortgage payments. In another storyline, Darlene and her boyfriend also talked about having a baby together.

Showrunner Bruce Helford previously told the outlet that while the series already has "a lot of regulars," he felt it was likely that Ferguson would be around for a long time due to his chemistry with Gilbert, with whom he has been real-life friends since they were teens.

Helford explained that the original plan was for Darlene to move on from her relationship with Ben to be with someone else, but the actors' real-life affection for one another translated onscreen so well that the producers decided he was a keeper.

Jay R Ferguson and Sara Gilbert in a scene from The Conners.
ABC | Eric McCandless

When The Conners returns with new episodes on October 21, the TV family will be seen dealing with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, which means Ben will probably be quarantined with the Conner clan.

Of course, the full-time addition of Ben could also mark the end of the Darlene and David debate. Fans have long wanted Johnny Galecki's character to return and work things out with his high school sweetheart and mother of his two children. But with her new man moving in on a full-time basis, David is likely out for good.

Last year, Gilbert told Entertainment Weekly that she was surprised by the positive viewer reaction to Darlene's new love interest after her 30-year history with David on the original ABC sitcom.

"I think people have gotten really attached to the new stories," she explained."Ben gives Darlene a run for her money in terms of being strong and standing up to her. People like seeing Darlene in that position."

Ahead of his role on The Conners, Ferguson appeared in Mad Men, The Real O'Neals, and the Twin Peaks revival. He also worked with his TV love triangle rival, Galecki, on the short-lived CBS comedy, Living Biblically.