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The Schmooze

‘Roseanne’ Is Dead And Ratings Are On Life Support As ‘The Conners’ Premieres

Life goes on, and with life, for better or for worse, comes ABC. “The Conners,” the swiftly reshuffled “Roseanne” reboot, sans leading lady, aired its first episode on Tuesday night. It’s been five months since the network canceled what would have been its crown jewel after the notoriously controversial Roseanne Barr tweeted racist slurs about former Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett.

The thirty minute premiere hit “dark” harder than “comedy,” beginning with the aftermath of Roseanne’s death from what the family believed to be a heart attack. But the Conners crew, headed up by Dan (John Goodman) and Jackie (Laurie Metcalf,) soon learns that Roseanne was the victim of an opioid addiction. It’s nothing if not topical — “The Conners” stays true to its reputation from the “Roseanne” days as having its finger on the pulse of American family life. And it is admirable for the show’s writers to not gloss over an epidemic that is killing 116 people every day.

But reviews from fans seem mixed. ABC was right not to keep Barr on board, but dropping her hasn’t scored any points with people who actually watch “Roseanne,” I mean — “The Connors.” In fact, it’s likely alienated them. Viewing numbers for the premiere episode were down 35% from the “Roseanne” reboot premiere, though the number is less drastic when you consider that viewers were awaiting that premiere for decades, rather than months.

The cast of “The Conners” has made the abundance of their love for the show clear, and Goodman and Metcalf are heavy hitters. But there may be no sustaining the loss of either “Roseanne” or Roseanne.

Jenny Singer is the deputy lifestyle editor for the Forward. You can reach her at Singer@forward.com or on Twitter @jeanvaljenny

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