‘The Conners’ Producer Reveals a ‘Roseanne’ Story That Got Scrapped

When Roseanne returned in 2018 it was a huge hit for ABC. They were already working on a second season when star and creator Roseanne Barr got in trouble with her social media activity. A racist tweet about Valerie Jarrett was the last straw. ABC canceled the show, but relaunched it as The Conners

L-R: Ames McNamara, Lecy Goranson, John Goodman, Sara Gilbert | ABC/Eric McCandless

Without Roseanne, the Conner family – Dan (John Goodman), Darlene (Sara Gilbert), Becky (Lecy Goranson), DJ (Michael Fishman) and Jackie (Laurie Metcalf) – mourned the death of Roseanne. The producers of The Conners spoke with the Television Critics Association for the first time since the relaunch on December 8. Bruce Helford revealed a story they were developing for Roseanne that would be impossible to do now on The Conners.

Rosie O’Donnell’s ‘Roseanne’ role won’t be possible on ‘The Conners’

When they were developing season 2 of Roseanne, Barr had an idea for a new character that Rosie O’Donnell might have played. However, with no Roseanne Conner, there’s no role for O’Donnell.

“Roseanne wanted to do a half-sister,” Helford said. “She wanted Rosie O’Donnell to play her half-sister. We weren’t able to do that. Any of the stories that really involved her heavily, we couldn’t really do that.”

Roseanne’s spirit still lives on

Despite the circumstances that led to Roseanne removing herself from the show and allowing it to continue as The Conners, the show still pays homage to her. She created Roseanne. The Conners still follows the original sitcom.

Laurie Metcalf and John Goodman
Laurie Metcalf and John Goodman | ABC/Eric McCandless

“Although there is a reverence for what was created, the person,” Helford said. “Whatever happens happens and things happen but the family respects the reverence of the character. The character is beloved. We try to keep some of that alive as we go along because there’s a lot of people who love that show for what it was so we want to be sure that we aren’t just saying, ‘Hey, goodbye, doesn’t exist anymore.’ God, the ripples of losing the matriarch, the absence of a matriarch there’s a lot to be explored.”

‘The Conners’ Executive Producer Bruce Helford, 1/8/2020

‘The Conners’ is still the same show in this way

ABC would only continue the show if Roseanne Barr was not a part of it. That meant it could no longer be Roseanne, but it wasn’t a total relaunch. The rest of the Conner family, and the new characters introduced in the revival, continue where Roseanne left off. If it feels like the same show with only one piece missing, that was intentional.

“The reason we all did Roseanne was because we wanted to write a show that’s very honest and not feel like a regular sitcom and be about real people and all that,” Helford said. “So going forward, the perspective of the show has changed very much, but not the life of the show. These are the same people continuing their lives and with the same tone of reality that Roseanne always had. So that’s very intentional for us.”

The Conners
L-R: Michael Fishman, Jayden Rey, Sara Gilbert, Lecy Goranson | ABC/Eric McCandless

The Conners just elevates some of the supporting cast to lead roles.

“Now you’re seeing it through the eyes of people who are four really different individuals,” Helford said. “You’re getting to see their lives under a magnifying glass where they were always supporting.”