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‘The Conners’ Killed Roseanne. Here’s the Reaction So Far.

What’s the Verdict on ABC’s “Roseanne” Spinoff, “The Conners”?

In March, ABC brought Roseanne Conner back to life with its reboot of the beloved 1990s sitcom “Roseanne.” Less than a year later, it killed her off: “The Conners,” which debuted on Tuesday, is “Roseanne” without Roseanne Barr, whose namesake series was canceled in late May after Barr wrote a Twitter post comparing Valerie Jarrett, a former adviser to Barack Obama and an African-American, to an ape.

“The Conners” was a last-ditch effort to salvage “Roseanne,” which had proved to be a huge ratings success for ABC. Rather than risk a messy offscreen battle with the show’s former star — and a potential comeback campaign — ABC decided to kill off the Roseanne character altogether. The critical consensus is that she’s better off dead.

‘Review: “The Conners” Is a Bittersweet Pill’ [The New York Times]

“It took the example of the real-life Barr to point out that the schisms in America right now aren’t just about politics,” writes The Times’s James Poniewozik, adding, “They’re also about decency and empathy and dehumanization.” He also adds: “These are moral lines that — once someone like Barr crosses them — you can’t simply agree to disagree about. You have to make a choice. ABC did, and in the process, it freed the Conners to be themselves.”

‘“The Conners” Doesn’t Need Roseanne’ [Vulture]

“‘The Conners’ even feels closer in tone and intent to the original ‘Roseanne,’ which is an astonishing thing to pull off with Roseanne herself no longer in the picture,” writes Jen Chaney. She adds that the specter of Donald Trump is largely absent in the spinoff, which “removes a burden that forced the new ‘Roseanne’’s characters to behave in some ways that didn’t match up with what we knew about them based on the original ‘Roseanne.’”

‘“The Conners” Is What the “Roseanne” Reboot Should Have Been All Along’ [Esquire]

Esquire’s Justin Kirkland was one of several critics to highlight Lecy Goranson’s performance as the older sister, Becky: “In what is maybe the most surprising twist, Becky (Lecy Goranson) emerged as the episode’s comedic M.V.P.”

‘Review: “The Conners” Misses Roseanne. But It Doesn’t Need Her’ [Vanity Fair]

For Sonia Saraiya, Roseanne Barr’s absence is an opportunity. “Barr’s personality took up a lot of space on the “Roseanne” set,” Saraiya writes. “Without her, the cast and the characters have a chance to breathe. And the result is an unlikely, appealing family sitcom with a motley crew of characters all held together by the same loss.”

‘Without Roseanne, “The Conners” Go On’ [NPR]

Linda Holmes argues that the premiere’s focus on the aftermath of Roseanne’s death was a throwback to what made the original “Roseanne” unique: “‘Roseanne’ was always more than just funny; it dealt with family and conflict and relationships. And there, the first episode of ‘The Conners’ excels.” But Holmes argues that the writers have work to do when it comes to making such weighty material funny. Otherwise, the spinoff “won’t survive as a comedy.”

‘Can “The Conners” Really Do “Roseanne” Without Roseanne?’ [Vanity Fair]

Laura Bradley spoke with several writers of the original “Roseanne,” some of whom weren’t so sure that continuing the Conner family’s story without Barr would work. According to one anonymous writer, “There’s a certain personality that you need to be the lead of a show.” Referring to Barr, the writer adds: “I think she was the core of the show. I like Dan and Darlene and all the other characters, and Jackie … They’re all great. But I just feel like the core is missing.”

‘“The Conners” Showrunner Bruce Helford: Why We Killed Off Roseanne Like That’ [The Hollywood Reporter]

In a column for The Hollywood Reporter, Bruce Helford, the showrunner of both the rebooted “Roseanne” and “The Conners” (he also served as an executive producer and writer of the original “Roseanne”), explains the decision to bring back the Conner clan sans Roseanne: “As writers, creators and artists, we were on a euphoric high, bringing a show back after 20-plus years to become the season’s No. 1 show in prime time television. Again. No one has ever done that before. But we did it, and it couldn’t end this way.” He adds, “In Episode 1, we mourn the loss of our matriarch. She deserved that.”

‘Roseanne Barr Reacts to Her Character’s Demise in “The Conners” Premiere’ [Deadline]

Barr had plenty to say about the death of the character she created. An hour after ABC aired the first episode of “The Conners,” Barr fired off a customarily incendiary tweet. She then released a longer statement on the Facebook page of Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, whose podcast Barr has appeared on several times since the cancellation of “Roseanne.” “We regret that ABC chose to cancel ‘Roseanne’ by killing off the Roseanne Conner character,” the statement reads. “That it was done through an opioid overdose lent an unnecessary grim and morbid dimension to an otherwise happy family show.”

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