'The Conners' Showrunner Discusses The 'Painful' Decision To Kill Off Roseanne
The Conners premiered on Tuesday night to some very solid numbers. While it didn't get the same impressive score that the first Roseanne reboot got, the network is happy with their 10.5 million viewers.
The episode showed us how the Conner family was dealing with the loss of the matriarch, and more importantly how they learned that she had in fact died of an opiod overdose.
Fans of the original series were divided over this new spinoff, with some saying that it was completely unfair that Roseanne Barr was kicked her off the series. Many fans supported the show though, and have enjoyed the new direction.
Whether you support the show or not, it's interesting to hear the point of view from the people in charge. Showrunner Bruce Helford just shared an essay explaining how they came to the decision to not only kill off Roseanne, but to do so in a way that has caused such controversy.
He's got a lot to say about it, and revealed how hard it was to know what to do after the network made their decision.
Helford explained that he supported the network's choice, but said it was "painful and difficult" due to the fact that he had a "positive relationship" with Barr.
"There was a lot of unfinished business for Roseanne Conner and this incredible, resolute, funny, flawed family of characters," Helford said. "None of the writers or the cast wanted to end the legacy of this show on a tragic note. Especially given how audiences so passionately embraced the return of Dan, Jackie, Darlene, Becky and the rest of the clan."
But luckily the story wasn't over, most of the characters would return in a new series, but Roseanne would need to be removed.
"We knew we had to explain Roseanne's disappearance from the show definitively but also set up the other characters in a way where they could move on."
Apparently there was a lot of debate in the writer's room, because they had to think up a way to remove her character.
"There was a lot of chatter in the ether about how we should explain Roseanne's absence: Should she have a sudden heart attack, a mental breakdown or go off into the sunset on a boat with her son Jerry Garcia?"
The writers decided that the best course of action was to face it head on.
"But back in the writers room, we firmly decided against anything cowardly or far-fetched, anything that would make the fierce matriarch of the Conners seem pathetic or debased."
The network was clear that it was to be a permanent departure.
"After much discussion by all parties, it was decided that we would have to make her departure clearly permanent," Helford explained. "But her death would have to be reverent to the woman who was so beloved by her family. And the result would have to leave no shadow over Dan, Jackie, Darlene, Becky, DJ and all of Lanford. It was a crucial story point so that the other characters could truly move on boldly with their lives, evolve and grow."
The showrunner, who had worked on the show since the original run, also wanted to be respectful of the actress.
"Roseanne helped launch my career," Helford explained. "And while we had our disagreements (she once fired me in Roseanne's original run), I wanted a respectful sendoff for her, too: one that was relevant and could inspire discussion for the greater good about the American working class, whose authentic problems are often ignored by broadcast television. If you watched the first episode, I hope you'll agree we did that."
He then explained the plan for the rest of the series.
"So in episode one, we mourn the loss of our matriarch. She deserved that. In the coming episodes, we'll be doing what I love most about this show: being brave, tackling subjects most comedies would find too difficult and shining a light on the lives of the unbowed Conners as they deal with the economic inequalities of life in lower-income America with love and humor. That's what I signed up for."
While it seems like Barr is unhappy with the send-off her character received, the showrunner and writers did their best to wrap up her story in the most respectful way.
Source - The Hollywood Reporter