It has been a roller coaster ride of a summer for fans of Roseanne, and now many are simply wondering where The Conners spin-off will lead.
Roseanne was cancelled at the end of May because of a racist tweet from star and creator Roseanne Barr. While few could deny the abhorrence of Barr's tweet, there were many people still privately mourning the abrupt loss of the Conner family.
A few weeks later, ABC reached a new decision by greenlighting a Roseanne spin-off that will star the entire Conner family except for Barr, whose public persona and use of Twitter have become too problematic to ignore.
Still, this leaves many questions to be answered when the new show finally arrives. The writers and producers could go in any number of directions to write Roseanne Conner off of the series, but it is a delicate process. The creators are likely to show at least some respect for Barr and for the fictional world she created. Despite all of her offensive comments and conspiracy theories as of late, she remains a comedy icon and a pioneer for women in the 20th century.
Some fans are hoping the show will offer a touching tribute to Barr, her legacy and the foundation she laid for The Conners. Others would undoubtedly like to see the new series ignore the uncomfortable reality of Barr's statements as much as possible.
There are countless other approaches that could be taken, and within each there are countless storylines that could be pursued. The show not only needs to contend with the loss of its eponymous star, but with re-centering around some new narrative centerpieces.
Here is a look at some popular ideas for storylines on The Conners.
The reboot season of Roseanne already tackled the American opioid crisis in the form of Roseanne Conner's dependence on pain killers for her knee. Many have naturally assumed that this will play into her exit from the show. A short expository conversation between other characters could explain that the Conner matriarch hit a wall with her addiction -- perhaps an overdose, lethal or otherwise, or a financially preventative barrier.
In that case, Roseanne's absence could be explained by either her death, or by a trip to a rehabilitation center. The latter may be more likely for a show like The Conners, as it would excuse the characters from grieving for her.
With Roseanne gone, it is important for The Conners to remain a show with strong, leading female characters. Who better to spearhead this than Jackie and Beverly Harris, played by Laurie Metcalf and Estelle Parsons, respectively. The two actresses are iconic in their own rights, beyond the show itself. If they took the reigns on some prominent storylines, it would ensure that The Conners stayed true to the working class feminism that Roseanne was based on.
On top of that, the mother-daughter duo have a famously troubled relationship. Seeing them work through their issues in some way would undoubtedly serve as a meaty storyline.
Season 10 of Roseanne began with Darlene Conner moving back in with her parents after losing her job in publishing out in Chicago. After a long season of her recuperating and searching for a job, it would be a natural next step for her to find a new job -- something just slightly different from the one she lost.
If Darlene were to find work with the local newspaper, it would fit naturally with her experience in publishing and writing. On top of that, it would send a positive message politically, after Barr got into trouble for promoting conspiracy theories and refuting real-life journalism.
Another upshot of this idea is that Darlene would then truly be in the position she claimed to be in in season 10. Assuming Roseanne was deceased or otherwise out of the Conner household, she would be living at home and helping her father stay afloat. This would be a neatly symmetrical arc for her character.
Another plausible premise for Roseanne's exit could be centered around her knee surgery. Much of the reboot season focused on her agonizing knee, and it could be that between seasons she went for the surgery, but something went wrong.
Of course, the writers could choose for Roseanne to die here -- either from surgical issues or even opiate toxicity. However, this could also be the place for Roseanne to rest in limbo for a time, too. If Roseanne was stuck at the hospital for the first several episodes of the show, it would allow The Conners to find their footing without her. Then, after the show was established, they could announce that she had died in the hospital, thereby opening the floodgates for the grieving storylines.
Becky Conner's future was up in the air during Roseanne's reboot season. The elder sister was working a dead-end job as a waitress, partying too much, and repressing her grief over the loss of Mark Healy.
Darlene suggested that she try a two-year educational program for restaurant and hotel management, but Becky's answer was never quite clear. This premise could be expanded in The Conners. If Becky went back to school, it would provide some movement for her character, while leaving plenty of room for trials and tribulations along the way.
One of the most pivotal changes in the Roseanne reboot was D.J.'s development. The youngest Conner sibling had joined the army, and married a fellow soldier, who was still stationed in Syria. Gina -- played by Xosha Roquemore -- was glimpsed only in brief Skype calls on the show, but producers repeatedly expressed their hope to bring her in more prominently in the coming seasons. There's no reason they can't do just that moving forward with The Conners.
A few detail-oriented fans have noted that there is no explanation for what happened to The Lunch Box in Roseanne season 10. Since the reboot ignores everything that happened in season 9, Roseanne and Jackie's partial ownership of the diner should theoretically still stand.
It would be a stretch to explain why the restaurant was never mentioned in season 10, but a work around could undoubtedly be found. The return of this familiar set piece would further establish The Conners, and allow for some small town quirkiness that made Roseanne's original run what it was.
In Roseanne season 10, Dan and D.J. Conner discussed the idea of opening a motorcycle repair business together. This passion project could be a great new venture for the show, as the beginning of a small business is always fraught with drama and complications. On top of that, a motorcycle shop would justify all of the time Dan spends in his garage.
Finally, many fans are hopeful that The Conners will have more appearances in store for David Healy, played by Johnny Galecki. During his one-episode appearance in Roseanne season 10, David established that he was living nearby, though he had moved in with another woman. The new series could show David's attempts to re-enter the lives of his children, and maybe even find somme equilibrium with Darlene.
Believe it or not, this may be the most far-fetched of fans' hopes for The Conners. Galecki is central to The Big Bang Theory, and next year the show will premiere its 12th season. It may not be the last, either as CBS' entertainment president Kelly Kahl intimated the network's hope that the show would continue for a few more years.
“As long as Chuck and his team have stories to tell, we will take the show for as long as they want to go,” Kahl said at this year's upfronts presentation. “We can take a few more seasons.”