What you need to know about 'Roseanne' spinoff 'The Conners'

ABC green-lit the spinoff weeks after Roseanne Barr posted a racist tweet.

October 16, 2018, 4:21 AM

Roseanne may be gone, but everyone else will return when "Roseanne" spinoff "The Conners" makes its debut tonight on ABC.

The spinoff was officially green-lit weeks after star Roseanne Barr posted a racist tweet directed at former Barack Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, which resulted in the immediate cancellation of her hit show "Roseanne" before filming began on the second season.

The last “Roseanne” season finale had around 20 million viewers.

Critics have been glowing in their reviews of the spinoff. Here's what you need to know about "The Conners."

PHOTO: Scene from "The Connors."
Scene from "The Connors."
Eric McCandless/ABC

Where's Roseanne?

After Barr signed away any financial participation, the new show was able to go on without her. Although ABC executives have stayed mum about how the show will address the fate of the title character, Barr herself said the family matriarch died.

"They have her die of an opioid overdose," Barr revealed on Brandon Straka's YouTube show "Walk Away."

John Goodman, who plays Roseanne’s husband Dan Conner, told the U.K.’s Sunday Times newspaper that his character will be "mopey and sad because his wife’s dead."

Executive producer Dave Caplan said the other characters will have to adapt in Roseanne's absence, though he stopped short of calling it a death. "Everyone has tragedies in their lives, or has someone they love leave them," he said. "And you have to adapt and you have to grow, and that's what these characters are going to be going through in an interesting way."

Familiar faces

Besides Goodman, the rest of the cast members will be back, including Sara Gilbert, Laurie Metcalf, Lecy Goranson and Michael Fishman. They will be joined by some old familiar faces, including Estelle Parsons as Roseanne's mother Jackie, Natalie West as Dan's stepmother and James Pickens Jr. as Chuck, one of Dan's friends.

Johnny Galecki is also set to return as David, Darlene's ex-husband. He has a new girlfriend, played by Juliette Lewis.

PHOTO: Scene from "The Connors."
Scene from "The Connors."
Eric McCandless/ABC

No more Trump

In the reboot, Roseanne was a Trump supporter. Although there will be no mention of the president in "The Conners," D.J. Conner's military veteran wife, Geena, played by Maya Lynne Robinson, will bring a conservative perspective to the family.

"Viewers old and new will enjoy seeing how her ‘military-style' discipline meshes with the Conners' more laid-back attitude," Bruce Helford, showrunner and executive producer, said in a statement.

Longtime fans will remember Geena as the little girl that a younger D.J. was once afraid to kiss in his school play. All grown up, she's now his wife and the mother of their daughter, Mary.

"The Conners" will still tackle timely issues -- such as health care, drug use, immigration and financial struggles -- from a working-class perspective. "If some of those feel political, they're political, but we're not doing any more of the Trump stuff," executive Bruce Rasmussen told Variety.

New theme song

"The Conners" will have their own theme song. Gilbert's wife Linda Perry is behind the new song, which is described as a "subtle but effective revamp."

"The Conners" premieres tonight at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

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