THE CONNERS Post-Mortem: EPs Dave Caplan and Bruce Helford on the Bittersweet Finale Twists - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

THE CONNERS Post-Mortem: EPs Dave Caplan and Bruce Helford on the Bittersweet Finale Twists

May 19, 2021 by  

Conners Dan Louise engaged

THE CONNERS – “Two Proposals, a Homecoming and a Bear” – Big changes are coming for the Conners, with not one but TWO proposals. Plus, Jackie uses her “JEOPARDY!” infamy to her advantage on the season finale of “The Conners,” airing WEDNESDAY, MAY 19 (9:00-9:31 p.m. EDT), on ABC. (ABC/Eric McCandless)

[Warning: This post contains spoilers for THE CONNERS season finale.]

THE CONNERS season finale delivered on its promised two proposals—but only one led to an engagement.

After Dan (John Goodman) decided he wanted to ask Louise (Katey Sagal) to marry him, a trip to the jewelry store inspired Darlene (Sara Gilbert) to pop the question Ben (Jay R. Ferguson).

Unfortunately for Darlene, Ben—who was tired of her uncertainty—decided to reject her proposal. While Darlene initially tried to hide her heartbreak, she slipped when she thought Louise turned Dan down…only to discover the duo were engaged.

So what comes next? Executive producers Dave Caplan and Bruce Helford break down the roller coaster finale and what’s ahead…

Let’s start with the happier news—Dan and Louise. With Katey now available, how does that impact the way you use her going forward?
Dave Caplan: We were obviously rooting for REBEL, because we love Katey, and she’s obviously a part of THE CONNERS family. She always said to us, no matter what happens with REBEL, that she wants to come back and be part of THE CONNERS. So we were always planning on having her. Now that REBEL didn’t go, while we feel badly for her, we feel okay for us, because we get more Katey. So we get to explore what that proposal means. And follow the independent Louise, who never wanted to be settled down, now that there’s a commitment on the table.

There was the comment at the end that maybe the duo would wind up eloping. In your mind, is there a chance the season will pick up and we’ll find them already married? Or will we see this engagement play out?
Bruce Helford: We can say to you that they will not be eloping. And they will not be married yet when we start next season; they’ll be engaged.

The renewal is still new, but have you been able to arc out any of the upcoming season? Or did the other factors make it so you didn’t take that step yet?
Helford: We really have start the arcs now, because we also were waiting to see what happened with REBEL, what happened with THE UNICORN, because involves Geena[‘s portrayer Maya Lynne Robinson]. So now that we have that information, and we know that we’re going to have more availability, that we can go ahead and plan arcs out. The tricky part with Katey was always that she would work with us on Saturdays, and give up her weekends, even though she was working long hours on her own show. But it was tough to know exactly when we’d get her. To build any groups of shows in a row, like an arc, was tough. Now we can; we have that luxury to be able to build it. So it’s going to be a different game and allows us to explore that relationship more.

And Darlene had her heart broken by Ben. They’ve had a rough go of it, but do you see this as the end for them?
Helford: We can say that [Jay] is a regular, and he’s certainly going to be on the show plenty next season. We can also say that Ben has lots of relationships in that family; he’s working with Dan—obviously their lives are gonna be intertwined all the way through. so whatever happens was on they’re still going to be each other’s faces.
Caplan: The one thing we can tell you about the Ben and Darlene relationship is that it was always complicated ,and it’s going to remain so. [Helford laughs.] That’s that’s the guarantee. It was wonderful and unexpected [debate] in the writers’ room about the Ben and Darlene relationship [and whether he supported her enough or she mistreated him]. We kind of felt like it was going to be a great surprise—we hope it turns out that way for the audience—but we also felt that it was earned.

D.J. (Michael Fishman) made the note that he and his family were going to leave to be happy. Will we be seeing less of him next season?
Helford: One of my favorite moments of the show was when he says, “We’re going to go off and be happy. You guys work things out.” [Laughs.] He’s basically escaping the family. They’re going to be…we’re so happy to have Maya Lynne back. We have always had much more planned, then THE UNICORN came up, and we were really happy for her. We’re like, “Oh my god, you’ve got to leave the show, go for it.” And so we were really rooting for her. Unfortunately, that didn’t work out. So now we’re happy to have her back with us, and now we can explore more of those stories. It’s not going to drive them away from THE CONNERS; if anything, it’s fun to see what it’s like to be an in-law with that family. That’s a tough family to break into. [Laughs.] Seeing what she puts up with is great.
Caplan: We want to do more there, but you got to know that Michael Fishman wears two hats; he directs for us, too. So we’ll have to see how much time he’s got on his hands for us to use him. But he may be behind the camera more this season. He definitely will be behind the camera more this season, so we’ll see how much we can use him as DJ.

COVID certainly made it more difficult to pull double-duty, so could we see him on-screen more next year when there doesn’t have to be that separation?
Helford: It’s all really just kind of a balance when we’re doing all this; we’ve got so many people in that show, so we try to give everyone their spotlight. And we have people come on to the show we’re really enjoying—having Candace Bergen there has been fun. The family is the family, and the core of the family will always get their share of the spotlight moments. Having Maya Lynne there should make it easier to incorporate all those things.

Jackie (Laurie Metcalf) got a big win with her viral fame and increased interest in the Lunchbox. Can this last?
Caplan: We felt like Jackie had earned some happiness by the end of this season. She’s had such a rough go of it over the course of the whole show. But we also felt like tying her happiness to the fate of the Lunchbox also felt right to us. Because the Lunchbox has been such a central touchstone for so much of her life. She worked there with her sister, and that was meaningful to her. And when she was dealing with Roseanne’s death, when she really broke down over it, she went back to the Lunchbox, which wasn’t the Lunchbox; it was a Chinese restaurant. And she didn’t even belong there, but she was drawn back to it and had to come to grips with Roseanne’s death in that place. And now that she owns that again, she needs to make a go of it; she needs this win, to make the Lunchbox successful. And I think, at some level, she absolutely knows that. So she’s hanging on. She hung on to it all through COVID. And now that she’s got a chance to turn it into something else, I think she’s gonna have a tremendous ferocity to make a success out of.
Helford: And, also, we love Neville. When we decided to give her a boyfriend, it was like, “How will this be different than all the boyfriends she had back in the day on ROSEANNE?” And we said, “What if she has someone who adores her?” Her self esteem is so low that she just challenges anyone who even cares about her; she’s doesn’t think she’s worthy. It’s really a wonderful relationship, and they’re great together. And they enjoy playing together, so that’s all good for us. We love that.

Becky (Lecy Goranson) also ended the season in a relatively good place. After the rough go she had this season, why was it important to leave her on this note?
Helford: She had a very, very, very tough few year. We definitely wanted to go back and revisit the alcoholism, because the only reason she quit the first time was because of the baby, she was pregnant. And we felt that’s not going to hold, especially once the pandemic hit. There’s just too much pressure; alcohol sales went way up during the pandemic. We wanted to deal with that honestly, and realistically, and put her into rehab. She’s going to be always struggling, to a certain extent, but we definitely want to see her…that’s the other reason, with the Lunchbox, she is now is going to get to be able to work and see her kid. We felt it was time for her to get some wins, get into the win column.
Caplan: She was struggling with this addiction. And I think COVID was a breaking point for mental health and addiction issues. It seemed only right to show that the Conners were affected by that, too. But now that we’re through that, to a great degree, I think things are looking up. I think she’s got a clear idea about where she wants to go now.
Helford: She also finally dealt with Mark’s death, and dealt with it in a way which was honest with herself, which is crucial in breaking her addiction pattern, too. So she’s poised for better times.


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