If you tuned into the premiere of The Conners on Tuesday night (8 p.m., ET on CTV), you didn’t have to wait long to find out what happened to the Roseanne character following Roseanne Barr’s actual firing from ABC and the cancellation of the Roseanne revival.
As Barr leaked a few weeks ago, Roseanne Conner was indeed killed off the series, but it was actually a lot darker than we thought it was going to be.
The Conners kicked off three weeks from where the Roseanne revival ended, with the family cleaning casserole dish after casserole dish sent to them by people wanting to extend condolences for Rosenne’s unexpected heart attack. But as we found out pretty quickly into the episode, it wasn’t a heart attack at all: it was actually an overdose.
It turns out that Roseanne’s addiction to pain killers never really went away, and following her knee surgery she just didn’t know how to quit. Eventually the pills caused her to stop breathing in the middle of the night, and just like that she was gone. Cue the new Roseanne-less series.
In its own way, the episode was the perfect example of something good coming from a terrible situation. While in real life the racial comments that got Barr fired caused plenty of controversy and discussion, in the episode, the writers chose to focus on addiction and how sometimes, even someone you love will go to great lengths to hide a problem from you. Like storing pills in the closet or in the back of the freezer.
Of course the series opener wasn’t all doom and gloom. While we wanted to slow-clap John Goodman’s performance and we had to hold back tears when Darlene and Jackie shared a tearful moment in the kitchen, The Conners seems to be just as full of the traditional sarcastic humour that we knew and loved from Roseanne.
“Laughing inappropriately is what mom taught us to do,” Darlene threw out at one point as she and Becky were discussing the financial burden that their mom left behind.
There were other calls to the original show, too, that honoured it without being cheesy. Dan couldn’t sleep in the bed that his wife died in, and no one in the family could sit on the iconic couch for the week either, thanks to Jackie taking a steam cleaner to it. Meanwhile, the series didn’t unroll its new opening sequence until the end of the episode, when the family sat around the kitchen table sharing food like they did in the original iconic opening.
Basically, The Conners demonstrated that this is a show that won’t forget its lead, but it will do its best to carry on without her. And whatever you think of Roseanne’s personal politics and statements, there’s no denying that millions of North Americans fell in love with this character and were sad to see the show go. So, at least we as viewers, along with all of the actors onscreen, got a cathartic goodbye and a new beginning, proving that life in Lanford will go on.