‘The Conners’ Showrunner Bruce Helford Explains Cast Member’s Absence, Teases More Clues About New Season

cast photo of the conners
Andrew Eccles / ABC

The Conners showrunner Bruce Helford gave fans a glimpse into what will be happening this season, including an explanation as to why one particular cast member will be absent from the show, at least for a while.

As TVLine reported, the popular ABC series returns for its third year Wednesday, October 21, with things picking up a few months after they left off at the end of the previous season.

COVID-19 Will Be Part Of The Plot

One topic that will dominate at least the first half of the season will be the real-life matter of the coronavirus pandemic.

Already, ABC has put out photos of the cast wearing masks, a nod to the safety measure that people around the world are employing to slow the spread of the deadly pathogen. Those masks, and the pandemic itself, will be a part of the narrative of show. However, Helford promises The Conners will tackle the subject with humor.

“It’s not going to be depressing. We’re not focusing on death and dying. We’re focusing on how to survive this [global crisis] with a smile on your face and a sense of humor,” he said.

the conners cast in their masks
  ABC

One Cast Member Won’t Be Back For A While (Spoilers)

Roseanne and Jackie’s mother, Bev Harris, had been a recurring character. However, she won’t be back this year, at least at first. That’s because the same global health crisis that is driving part of the story arc also has real-life implications for the actress who portrays her.

As Helford explained, at 92, Estelle Parsons, is at high risk for developing complications from the deadly virus and producers would rather keep her safe.

“We’re worried about putting her on an airplane or having her exposed to anything. We hope to have her toward the end of the season,” he said.

The same issue will also keep 68-year-old Dan Aykroyd, who plays Dan’s newest poker buddy, away from the set for similar reasons.

Other Developments

Outside of the pandemic, the family will have to deal with other issues as well.

Daughter Becky will have to deal with the arrival of baby Beverly’s father, Emilio, who illegally entered the country.

Both Becky and her sister, Darlene, will be getting jobs at the same plastics factory where their mother once worked.

Back at the house, Becky’s boyfriend, Ben, has moved in, as has Dan’s new girlfriend, Louise, making for a crowded situation that will cause “some difficulty,” as Halford described it.

Meanwhile, the show’s trademark Halloween episode will be back, as previously reported by The Inquisitr. However, this time the characters will have to deal with the fact that there will be no trick or treating in Lanford due to the coronavirus.