Conners didn't handle Roseanne's death perfectly, but luckily, the show's status as a family sitcom meant it was thematically appropriate.
While The Conners didn't handle Roseanne's death very well, the sitcom spinoff managed to address it thanks to its family sitcom formula. Following the show's 10th season rerun in 2018, the firing of Roseanne Barr in real life resulted in the off-screen death of Roseanne's titular heroine. Roseanne's in-universe death is the first storyline told by The Conners, as the series continues the family. Unfortunately, previous seasons of "The Conners" handled the plot in questionable ways.
Given the suddenness of the behind-the-scenes changes, it's understandable that the Conners couldn't handle Roseanne's death perfectly. Even Season 5 of "The Conners" had some big story misses, so it's always going to take time for the sitcom spinoff's first season to find its footing. However, since real-life families largely don't deal with the death of a loved one in a clear and concise manner, this issue does a great job of showing just how dysfunctional and connected families are. Even now, the Conners can continue to explore the messy, complex, and human reactions of the family to tragic events and their aftermath.
The Conners' Questionable Roseanne Death Reaction Works For A Sitcom
It's hard for any show to kill its predecessor title character, but in this case, the fact that the Conners are already an unstable family works in the show's favor. Dan doesn't let Roseanne go until Season 4 of "The Conners," and the other characters barely mention her—or, in Becky's case, just joke about her place in hell. This discrepancy may seem extreme, but it reflects how family dynamics can create chaotic, dysfunctional environments in which people feel they need to use humor to mask their true feelings, or even when traumatic events occur. For many years, I was unable to express my emotions.
While it is true that the Conners did not mention Roseanne for entire episodes in previous seasons, this also reflects the way grief affects real-life families. The Conners felt compelled to return to work as usual because, as a working-class family, they approached their struggles with humor, something they were raised to do. Roseanne's best Christmas episode, from Season 5 in 1992, tackled generational trauma and parental abuse in a half-hour of television, but somehow still ended on a hopeful note, while The Conners revived that tone in earlier seasons Because family members try to laugh it off or ignore their loss.
How The Conners Can Lean Into Its Initial Roseanne Storyline Mistakes
While it may be rooted in realism, it was still a mistake for The Conners to dismiss Roseanne's legacy across the board. Not mentioning Roseanne leads to some weird outings, and she feels like the elephant in the room when the characters go out of their way to avoid talking about her. However, as evidenced by one of the most tragic episodes of The Conners season 5, the series can have devastating consequences for its early mistakes. When Jackie had to break the news of Roseanne's death to Beverly from dementia, it was a moment that proved that despite the passing of time, the Conner family can still address the loss in moving ways.