*Warning: Spoilers for The Conners below*
The Conners premiered on ABC this past Tuesday, October 16, and they wasted no time in answering lingering questions about the fate of its former titular character, Roseanne. Roseanne Barr was fired from her own show after its first season for tweeting racist comments about former Obama staffer Valerie Jarrett, but the program’s success and popularity motivated ABC to make the nearly unprecedented move of continuing the narrative without its former protagonist.
— The Conners (@TheConnersABC) October 16, 2018
There was a lot of excitement to see what Roseanne without Roseanne would be like.
— BlondeNBlue1 (@blondenblue1) October 17, 2018
The Conners wasted no time addressing what had happened to their matriarch.
A moment in history… Watching #TheConners … It's only been 40 seconds into the premiere and they have already address the death of Roseanne
— Michael (@taurus5793) October 17, 2018
The premiere revealed that in between seasons, Roseanne had died of an opioid overdose. During the last season, Roseanne struggled with an addiction to opioids following a knee surgery.
Great job @TheConnersABC in dealing with the issue an honest and deep way along with some humor… Looking forward to the rest of the shows.
— mike thornton (@ADAPTmikey) October 17, 2018
Many fans thought the show handled Roseanne’s passage in a very touching way.
— Lauren Connors (@lconnors910) October 17, 2018
— Paige Wolf #VOTENOV6 (@paigewolf) October 17, 2018
Others thought the show went well, but missed Roseanne’s presence nonetheless.
#TheConnors was good but without rosanne some things are just not as funny with a certain character
— Matthew ryan handy (@Matthew_Handy18) October 17, 2018
Touching. Watching #TheConnors and trying not to choke up. No matter how you feel about Rosanne (person or show) #johngoodman’s emotion is heartbreaking. @LaurieMetcalfe and @THEsaragilbert give a remarkable performance. Closing table scene and bedroom moments got me #lovetv
— Bryn Johnson (@BrainofBryn) October 17, 2018
On the other side of things, Roseanne popped off on Twitter with a bit of shade!
I AIN’T DEAD, BITCHES!!!!
— Roseanne Barr (@therealroseanne) October 17, 2018
Some online thought that the cause of Roseanne’s death (opioid overdose) may have been a jab at Barr’s claim that she had sent her racist tweets under the influence of Ambien.
You all the fact that Roseanne tried to blame Ambien on her racist rant and she died from a drug overdose on the show is the ultimate shade #TheConners
— Jay Michaels™ (@jaymichaels) October 17, 2018
— Dom (@_DomMiller) October 16, 2018
Bitchhhh The Conners wrote Rosanne off saying she OD’d from opioids that weren’t even prescribed to her. I do why this is so funny to me. The shade was thick!
— TerrenceTargaryen (@Ttgotit) October 17, 2018
It seems unlikely that the show’s writers were going after Roseanne, especially considering her character’s history with opioids on the show. What’s more, many cast members have gone so far as to say they still feel her presence on the set, indicating they bear her little ill-will. That didn’t stop fans from speculating, however:
— CK (@charley_ck14) October 17, 2018
— The Aten (@QueenoftheAten) October 17, 2018
— adri ϟ (@adrisunset) October 17, 2018
Roseanne was known for tackling hard topical issues, and The Conners may well continue that legacy.
People are saying Roseanne’s overdose was shade for her ambien use but I’m not sure it’s about that. I think #TheConners are trying to focus on topics that are effecting American households. Opioid overdoses are one of the big ones. It’s sad and it’s tragic but it’s true.
— Lindsey Kelly (@pfflindsyadigg) October 17, 2018
People seem to be forgetting, the last season of Roseanne, she was hiding pills, and already had a drug problem before the whole tweet ordeal. It wasn't shade for the ambient comment. Was the only, and right way to write it. Great show! Loved it. #TheConners
— FeedersUnderground (@BigBroDoncey) October 17, 2018
Regardless, fans were glad to see an important cultural touchstone demonstrate it could continue and even thrive without folding to an individual’s racism… even when that individual was previously considered integral to the production.
— Mark Towle (@towle_mark) October 17, 2018
Growing up watching #Roseanne I think #TheConners had to make a move & chose to address the serious & current crisis of opiod abuse. Tastefully done in raising awareness and moving the show forward with integrity.
— MJ Radio Diva Vegas (@MJRadioDiva) October 17, 2018