How The Conners' D.J., Mark And Harris Actors Feel About Darlene's Relationship Struggles With Ben

Spoilers below for The Conners' first three episodes of Season 4, so be warned!

Despite being a sitcom first and foremost, ABC's The Conners has no lack of legitimately emotional drama flowing through these characters' lives, from financial problems to sobriety strains to relationship struggles. The latter is clearly most present within Darlene and Ben's respective and combined storylines, as they can't seem to get on the same page regarding what their future should or shouldn't be. And while Sara Gilbert's character has talked to several elder family members about the situation already this season — not to mention a bedside conversation with the Lord Almighty — viewers haven't really heard a whole lot from those younger than Darlene, including Michael Fishman's D.J., Ames McNamara's Mark, and Emma Kenney's Harris. 

So when CinemaBlend had the pleasure of speaking with the three Conners stars about the ongoing Season 4, I definitely asked what each of their feelings were about Darlene's relationship woes, as seen in the video above. So let's break those answers down below!

dj eating dinner with family on the conners

(Image credit: ABC)

Michael Fishman (D.J.)

As a younger brother, I can certainly relate to having a sister going through a tumultuous period related to an iffy relationship, and by all means, I can also relate to D.J. not making frequent attempts to have such awkward conversations with Darlene about her love life. Brothers care in their own ways. When I asked star and episode director Michael Fishman how he thinks his character feels about Darlene's situation, the actor offered quite the sincere take, and then amusingly addressed how that sibling dynamic has changed in D.J.'s favor.

Yeah, I think D.J. is a guy who kind of is quiet and a little subdued in some of the stuff, but he clearly has opinions. And so I keep rooting for the opportunities to really have strong opinions, because I think as a brother, you know, her relationships have been a little chaotic, and there's kids involved, and there's lots of things, so I look forward to the opportunity. Plus, it is kind of a chance for D.J. to give her a hard time for a change, because he's actually kind of being really functional in a place that neither of his sisters are for the first time in his life, 'cause he's got a great family structure and his kid seems to be doing fantastic. So you know, I see it as an opportunity for D.J. to can maybe get a little payback.

To Michael Fishman's point, Darlene's relationships with Ben and others don't just affect her own life. Even though Mark and Harris are teenagers and already appear to be cemented on their own respective life paths, their mother's choices still affect them. After all, what if she decided to have a one-night stand with Brian Austin Green's Jeff and discovered that he's not just a chill psychedelics-lover but actually a serial killer? Okay, so he'd probably just kill some cereal because of munchies, but the point stands.

I think we can all agree it would be fun if The Conners found ways for D.J. to prove his sibling superiority on the homefront, though I guess Darlene would likely just make him feel shitty about it. Sisters are gonna sister. In any case, let's switch over to Darlene's fictional offspring themselves.

mark and darlene talking at kitchen table on the conners

(Image credit: ABC)

Ames McNamara (Mark)

By and large, Mark comes across as the kind of person who would welcome and embrace anything that he came across, be it Darlene getting a new boyfriend or aliens from Saturn moving in next door. Which puts him right up there with D.J. in the realm of Conners family members who could actually serve as a legitimate success story in a traditional sense. (Not to say Becky isn't a success for her sobriety and sober sex, or that Dan isn't a success for anything involving Katey Sagal's Louise.) And when I asked star Ames McNamara if he and Mark were Pro-Ben or Pro-David, he revealed that Darlene's relationship issues will directly affect Mark this season. In his words:

Well, I think Mark is definitely pro-Ben, and I would lean towards pro-Ben as well. Jay in such a great guy. But I think that's something - the relationship between Darlene and Ben and David and Jeff and like all that - is definitely going to impact Mark this year. And I think that he's gone through the divorce of Darlene and David, which was most definitely hard on him. And then I think that now, he's watching another relationship fall apart after he was able to get close and really form a great relationship with Ben. So I think that it's tough, and I think that definitely will come up for Mark in this season.

Honestly, I think if Mark stumbled across a book about marriage counseling, even if he just read the back cover, he would still be something of a perfect mediator in helping guide Darlene and Ben back to something resembling happiness. He's keenly aware of what makes Darlene happy and what sets her off, and his friendship with Ben makes him an ally even at a point when Ben isn't able to talk to Darlene without getting emotionally exhausted. But then I'm not sure if Mark is so eager to interject himself into the mess in such a way. Here's hoping Mark comes out of everything unscathed, since he'll likely be supporting the entire fam in 10 years or so.

harris in bridesmaids dress on the conners

(Image credit: ABC)

Emma Kenney (Harris)

Then there's Emma Kenney's Harris, who very much seems like a slightly less surly and slightly more self-righteous version of Darlene. And what's more, she presumably hasn't (yet) had any major relationships that could affect the rest of her life, the way that Darlene did as a teen with Johnny Galecki's David. And though viewers will probably never see Harris and Darlene having a tear-soaked heart-to-heart conversation about men and relationships, Kenney had this to say when I asked about being Team Ben or Team David:

I'm pro-Ben, I think. David, you know, made one too many mistakes, and they're not meant to be at this point. But who knows what's gonna happen? I also love Jay. Johnny's amazing as well. So it'd be maybe fun to have like a love triangle arc, because I love both of them.

While Emma Kenney is certainly correct in implying that David probably doesn't deserve yet another chance with Darlene, given his transgressions in the past, and his lack of presence in the family members' lives. (Due in part to Johnny Galecki's Big Bang Theory stardom, but still.) It did seem like The Conners might have been trying to play up a more prominent love triangle whenever Jay R. Ferguson's Ben was first introduced, but kinda hard to pull off when one side of the triangle has other career responsibilities. In any case, color me very interested in seeing that potential complication come to life later in Season 4. 

With more on the way from Darlene and Ben's issue-filled relationship on the way, The Conners airs Wednesday nights on ABC at 9:00 p.m. ET. To see what else is hitting the small screen soon, be sure to keep up with our 2021 Fall TV schedule!

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.