Jun 5, 2022

"The Conners": Gay Kid Argues with his Mom in this Update of Roseanne's Family

The iconic 1990s sitcom Roseanne (1988-1997) starred the iconic Roseanne as the matriarch of a working-class family in small-town Lanford, Illinois.  It featured an unusual number of gay characters and situations.  Even Roseanne's elderly mother comes out as a lesbian (and immediately finds a girlfriend).  Twenty years later, a revival was cut short after Roseanne was fired for making crazy racist remarks; her character was killed off, and a retooled The Connors is now in its fourth season.  Most of the original cast is still around, including Roseanne's husband Dan (John Goodman), sister Jackie (Laurie Metcalf), daughters Darlene (Sarah Gilbert) and Becky (Lecy Goranson), and son DJ (Michael Fishman).  I heard that Darlene's son Mark (Ames McNamara) is nonbinary, so I watched Season 4, Episode 10, in which they "celebrate Mark."

Scene 1:
  Eating out to celebrate Mark making the Dean's List at school.  My first thought: Dan and Darlene look shockingly old (John Goodman is 69, and Sara Gilbert 47, but I haven't seen them since the first show ended.) Dan was previously quite homophobic, but he's apparently mellowed. Mark isn't nonbinary, he's just a feminine gay boy. 

Also present are Mark's boyfriend Logan and an unidentified middle-aged guy (IMDB states that he's Jay R. Ferguson, left as "Ben."  Maybe Mark's Dad, so Darlene's ex-husband?).

Everyone wonders why Mark was getting Cs at his old school, but As at the ritzy magnet school.  He claims that Logan is inspiring him to study.  But when Aunt Becky (shockingly old) brings out the cake, he refuses to eat any.  Who refuses cake?  Suspicious!

Other people show up.  The young adult Harris (a girl) comes in, gives Mark a gift, yells at Darlene, and leaves (Darlene's daughter, maybe?).  Jackie (Roseanne's sister, looking the same as she did 20 years ago). has a broken ankle, but tries to hide it, because Neville's ex-wife is much younger.  I'm guessing Neville is her boyfriend or husband.

Neville (Nat Faxon)  and the ex-wife arrive to pick up Logan.  So Mark is dating the son of his great-aunt's boyfriend.  The interconnections are becoming annoying.

Scene 2:  The two daughters (Darlene and Becky), Aunt Jackie, and Dan at breakfast in the iconic Connor kitchen.  So the middle-aged daughters are still living at home?  Last night Mark couldn't sleep because of all the coffee he drank to stay awake studying, so he made a lasagne.  Suspicious, especially since he hates coffee.

Scene 3:  The iconic Connor living room.  Mom Darlene gets the truth out of Mark: he's been taking ADHD medication (a prescription stimulant), provided by his boyfriend Logan.  It's the only way he can study enough to succeed at the magnet school, get into a good college, and not be a failure like the rest of the family.  Darlene chaffs: "I didn't fail in life because I didn't take enough drugs.  I failed because I'm not very good at my profession and not particularly pleasant to be around."   She makes Mark dispose of the drugs.

Scene 4:  B plot: The doctor (Jared Farid Ward, top photo) is examining Aunt Jackie, while Becky throws herself at him.  He advises Jackie to stay off the ankle: "At your age, bones take a long time to heal."  At her age?  Jackie is devastated: she's never thought of herself as "old" before.  Laurie Metcalf is 66 years old.  I had a doctor tell me that I had to be careful running "at my age" when I was 50.  

Scene 5:  Darlene and Dan playing cards.  Sister Becky comes in and reveals Aunt Jackie's over-reaction to "at your age" and her crush on the doctor.  Recovering addicts aren't supposed to date for a year, but Becky claims that "doctors don't count."  Also, as a recovering addict, Becky knows that taking away your drugs doesn't work: there are always more.  They check Mark's backpack, and find more ADHD medication.

Scene 6: Mark and boyfriend Logan studying in his room. Mom  Darlene storms in, yells at Logan for providing, and kicks him out.  Mark yells: "I'm just trying to get a better life, so I don't end up like you."

Scene 7:  Becky and Harris (Darlene's estranged daughter?) researching the hot doctor to find out why he's single.  It never occurs to them for an instant that he might be gay, even though they have a gay brother/nephew.   Turns out that he is a Harry Potter fan, which turns Becky off.

Scene 8: Jackie overdoing the "old lady" bit with Neville (her younger boyfriend): "I'm decaying as we speak."  Neville: "You're not old, you're crazy."  

Scene 9: Dan and Darlene discuss Mark.  "He can't take the magnet school, so send him back to public school."  "But that would kill his future."  Umm...you can get into a good college from public school, you elitist snob!  

Scene 10: 
 Jackie's boyfriend Neville drops by and resolves the "old lady" issue: he likes them old.  

Scene 11: Mark has been trying to stay up all night studying on coffee instead of ADHD medication.  Darlene decides to send him back to public school.  "No!  You're dooming me to a life of struggling, like you!  I hate you!"  "Then I'm doing my job."  That was Roseanne's line.

Scene 12:  Dan and Becky investigate a mysterious noise in the camper, and find Harris (Darlene's daughter) living there. Her boyfriend kicked her out.

My Grade: 
Way too many characters to keep track of, and Mark is absurdly overreacting to being sent back to public school.  Besides, magnet schools aren't especially demanding; they just specialize in certain fields, like the arts or science.  But at least being gay is a non-issue. C

By the way, several regulars didn't appear in this episode, including Roseanne's son DJ (Michael Fishman, left), Harris's boyfriend Aldo (Tony Cavalero), and lots of miscellaneous wives, ex-wives, and kids.  27 regular and recurring characters!  


  1. I believe it was more low-key antisemitic conspiracy theories about Chelsea Clinton's husband. Like, not mentioning Jews collectively or anything Jewish specifically, but hitting all the story beats for a typical right-wing antisemitic conspiracy theory in the post-9/11 era. Daily reminder that you can be bigoted against yourself.

    Roseanne's also a terf.

    My theory is it's an alternate universe. In the finale, we learn everything after season 3 is just for Roseanne's book; Becky married David and Darlene married Mark; Roseanne's mother was straight; and Dan dies. "Okay, what the hell was that?"

    There actually is some discrimination against public school graduates; file it under what I call "proxy discrimination". Find an acceptable form of discrimination against an immutable trait which correlates with an immutable trait where discrimination is illegal.

    1. Also Roseanne tells us that Jackie is a lesbian, so her husband and kid never happened. The new series made some changes to the continuity, also.

  2. I watched the original but not the reboot


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