Matt Williams and Roseanne Barr created the popular ABC American sitcom series Roseanne, which ran for almost a decade from 1988 to 1997. The story follows Roseanne Conner and the lives of her family in the fictional town of Lanford. The series came back briefly in 2018 with nine episodes but was ultimately cancelled after Barr made racist and Islamophobic comments on Twitter. That same year, the series was instead re-titled to The Conners, focusing on the Conner family without the involvement of Barr, completely removing Roseanne’s character and has recently seen its Season 5 finale.
Now, The Conners picks up after the passing of Roseanne and sees the middle-class family struggling to get by. Many plot points from the last few seasons of Roseanne were ignored, with The Conners being granted a fresh slate. The sitcom has now reached its fifth season, bringing it to a close with an unexpected twist for many fans. The season finale saw the return of a character from the original Roseanne sitcom, David (Johnny Galecki). However, it was not the return fans were hoping for as the show creators drove home the fact that he was an absentee father, forever tainting the character in a bad light.
What Influenced the Decision to Portray David This Way?
An interview between TV Line and The Conners’ executive producers, Bruce Helford and Dave Caplan, explores their reasoning behind this shocking decision. The show’s final episode, episode 22 of season 5, revolves around Mark’s graduation, with the episode title being “The Grad Finale”. In a shocking turn of events, Mark comes to the realisation that his relationship with his father, David, is not as straightforward as he initially thought. Driving it home, The Conners made it evident that David was not only an absent father but a bad one at that.
Helford explained his stance on this decision, stating that part of the reason they came to this decision was because of Galecki’s busy schedule. “…And there’s only so long we can go without seeing David,” the executive producer stated, voicing a thought we have shared for a while, especially with the show possibly reaching its end soon. Where Mark and David’s relationship is concerned, Helford passes the torch to Caplan to help explain their train of thought with the decision. The EP started off by saying:
“There are a couple of things in play here: One of the things we’re implying is that zebras don’t change their stripes; it’s one thing to talk a big game, and it’s another thing to show up, which is what parenting is about.”
Caplan elaborated that Ben was there for Mark when David was not. However, despite David being all talk, he ultimately could not walk the walk and step up to be a father to his son. Helford further confirmed this by addressing the injustice they would do Ben’s character if they tried to redeem David. After all, Ben was there for Mark all along, and it would make sense for Darlene and her son to accept him, making for a bitter-sweet turning point in the show.
Thus far, David has not been a considerable part of the show, leading to many plot problems. Establishing David as someone who won’t be there for their family is the best way to erase future expectations from both the character and the actor. While it ruins David’s character from the original series, it puts things into perspective for many who think someone can change while also resolving possible plot holes from forming. With the upcoming sixth season possibly being the last, ruining David’s character now means Darlene and Mark can genuinely focus on and bond with Ben.