The Conners debuted on ABC Tuesday night without former titular star Roseanne Barr. Speculation on how she would be written off the show was finally laid to rest.
Warning: There be spoilers coming.
Keep On Truckin’
Early in the episode, called Keep on Truckin’, the Connors are sitting around the kitchen dealing with the death of the family matriarch. They believe that she died of a heart attack following knee surgery. But then, the coroner’s report arrives.
As it turns out, Roseanne overdosed on opioids. Initially Dan (John Goodman) refuses to believe it, saying that he flushed her pain pills just two days after surgery and that she’d been taking only ibuprofen.
It is then that Becky (Lecy Goranson) shows Dan a bottle of pills that she found in Roseanne’s closet – opioids that weren’t even prescribed to Roseanne. Jackie (Laurie Metcalf) also finds a stash in the kitchen freezer.
Not a Stretch
Roseanne’s fate was not a stretch for those who viewed the season 10 revival. During that season, it was revealed that Roseanne developed an opioid addiction to cope with her pain and discomfort. At the end of season 10, Dan urges Roseanne that it’s past time to schedule her knee surgery.
The angle was based on Roseanne Barr’s real experiences with knee pain – at one point before season 11 was scrapped to be rewritten after her firing, producers had discussed allowing her to perform in a wheelchair.
The show didn’t shy away from issues such as addiction, health care, and more. Later in the episode, Dan finds out that Roseanne’s friend Marci (Mary Steenburgen) supplied the pills which ended up taking Roseanne’s life.
Darlene effectively takes over for the family, caring for Dan and Jackie, who are both a complete mess while trying to deal with the tragedy, and Becky, who drinks heavily and sleeps around to cope.
The Conners airs on Tuesdays at 8 pm ET on ABC.