Stars of 'The Conners' Face Financial Nightmare as Show Craters


Some time after Roseanne Barr’s firing from the reboot of her ABC show for offensive tweets involving Valerie Jarrett, someone very dense in a very Hollywood sort of way thought it would be a great idea to continue the show without her and turn it into a kind of after-school special about The Perfidies of Trump’s America.

This all came across as a weird act of penance, a mea culpa from Hollywood to Hollywood for letting Barr back on TV in the first place. The first episode of the rebooted reboot, “The Conners,” killed off Barr’s character from an overdose and revealed she nursed a secret opioid addiction.

Execs seemed to promise future plot lines wouldn’t be quite as on-the-nose as the premiere. Given that the most recent episode involved Jackie Conner, the most liberal member of the titular family, polling mall patrons about the midterm elections with hee-larious results, I think shenanigans can safely be called on that assertion.

Unfortunately, as any individual who’s been Catholic for any length of time will tell you, watching other people undergo the sacrament of penance isn’t usually a rip-roaring way to spend five minutes.

When you realize sitcoms last 30 minutes at least, you start to see the problem. While networks execs didn’t when they green-lighted this Hindenburg, ratings have a funny way of convincing them in a way that pure reason won’t — and that’s probably going to end up costing the two biggest names on the program big league.

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John Goodman and Laurie Metcalf — who play Dan Conner and Jackie Conner, respectively — are likely going to be hit with what Radar Online implied were “dramatic” pay cuts.

According to a source, given the show’s woefully disappointing ratings, both Goodman and Metcalf “are too expensive to keep around.”

Do you think "The Conners" should be canceled?

“They both earn $375,000 an episode, a number that was negotiated before the Roseanne scandal,” the source noted.

Of course, before the scandal, “Roseanne” was killing it in the ratings. “The Conners” was third out of five shows in its time slot this past week, attracting under 7 million viewers, while “NCIS” on CBS and “The Voice” on NBC both easily beat it.

The only shows it beat, according to TV By the Numbers, were “The Flash” on the CW (which is a real network in the same way that Evan McMullin was a real presidential candidate) and “The Gifted” on Fox, which is an X-Men show in which the X-Men no longer exist. Just ponder that last one for a second.

“Now that the audience has disappeared along with the star, the only way to keep the show profitable is to ask both John and Laurie to take a pay cut,” the source told Radar Online.

Of course, without Goodman and Metcalf, there’s even less reason to watch the show. Even if you don’t mind the after-school special-ness of the new concept, watching a show called “The Conners” without the two most identifiable members of the Conner family is a bit like watching a version of “The Brady Bunch” that revolves entirely around Jan and Cousin Oliver.

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ABC execs also seem to realize the problems this entails; they’ve only added one additional episode to their original order of 10 shows. That brings it to half of the episodes it would need to complete a full season.

In short, it looks like that show with the not-X-Men X-Men might finally get a little less competition.

I can fully understand the desire to excise “Roseanne” from the TV schedule after what happened this spring. What escapes me is the desire to keep the show around without its most bankable star as a politically motivated make-work program for its other cast members.

In network meetings where the best and brightest Hollywood minds gather ’round oaken tables to discuss how we’ll all be entertained this coming autumn, this somehow passed for a solid business decision.

Now, it’s going to end in Goodman and Metcalf forfeiting a fair chunk of their paycheck and/or everyone on the show forfeiting the entirety of theirs. The latter option seems likely either way given that I don’t see this turning around anytime soon — not with the star of the show gone and the plot lines all being so painfully, flamboyantly topical.

This forced attempt at a neo-Norman Lear sitcom ought to be put out of its misery — but then, it never should have been born into such misery in the first place.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture