Here’s why The Connors works better than the first reboot
I will wholeheartedly admit, I was very apprehensive about the reboot, of the reboot, of Roseanne without its titular lead character. While Roseanne imploded the show’s initial reboot on her own volition, I did wonder how a show that was built for and around an iconic character and performer would fare without said character. The answer, better than the initial reboot could have dreamed.
Roseanne Barr (via Roseanne Conner) came roaring back as the lead conductor on the ever coming off the track Trump Train. And while she did not necessary wear a MAGA hat, the fact that both her character and the portrayer very publicly supported the current occupant of the White House automatically divided an audience — in an already very divided nation. The storylines on the initial reboot were not always completely politically driven, but it is fair to say that political leanings (and the consequences on both sides) drove a significant part of the story in this first reboot.
The Conners is the family comedy with heart that we needed
Speaking of consequences, Roseanne is no longer affiliated with the show that she built. The legendary off stage brawls and tantrums, are now a thing of the past. In a post Roseanne atmosphere The Conners is the family comedy with heart that we all needed.
While a good potion of the initial episode focuses on Roseanne’s death from opioid addiction (a relatable story arc for a significant part of the country that she initially was trying to reach out to). Sara Gilbert is bringing her Darlene from middle child to center stage performer. Which was no clearer than in the final moments of the premiere episode. The humor was dark and macabre at times, and light and familiar at others. You feel that this family is finding their footing after losing their anchor. And they are each going to have their own journey to get back to their own sense of normalcy. The family has built in storylines, including family members in combat. One of Darlene’s children being gender non conforming is a storyline. We may be seeing a much more defined gender for this groundbreaking character played lovingly by Ames McNamara.
One suggestion that could potentially throw a unique curveball into the family dynamic, would be perhaps inviting Wanda Sykes to play the protagonist mother of youngest son D.J.’s wife Geena. She is played by the dynamic Maya Lynne Robinson. Sykes character could be the adversarial voice that could serve as a perfect sparring partner for Laurie Metclaf’s Aunt Jackie, and the friend that John Goodman’s Dan Conner could use in a time of uncertainty. As the grandmother of one of Roseanne’s grandchildren she is a natural fit, and this could drive the story, as some members of the family welcome the help from extended family, while others feel that Sykes character is trying to replace the beloved Conner matriarch.
As Sykes wrote on the initial reboot, this would not only be a welcome home of sorts, but would give Sykes another spot on ABC to showcase her talents. She also recurs on the hit ABC sitcom Blackish.
Right now though, I am happy to welcome The Conners back to ABC and to our homes. Like the family down the street or up the block that may suffer a sudden and tragic loss, the family may need a little bit of time to find their footing, but chances are, they will be just fine.