The Conners Bosses On The Character Storylines They’re Excited To Dig Into For Season 5

ben and darlene in the living room on The Conners
(Image credit: ABC)

Spoilers below for anyone who hasn’t yet watched The Conners Season 4 finale, so be warned!

For 14 seasons of television, the Conners’ abode has housed the majority of the family members, and while that may have made ample sense during Roseanne when “the kids” were actually children, The Conners has hinged entire story arcs on the issues involved with so many generations living under the same roof. With Season 4’s conclusion, the ABC sitcom cemented the marriages of Ben and Darlene ahead of their impending move, with Jackie and Neville also tying the knot. Combine that with Harris and Aldo seemingly splitting up, and Season 5 already has quite a few storylines to return to for ABC’s fall schedule.

When CinemaBlend spoke with The Conners’ showrunner Bruce Helford and Dave Caplan, as seen in the video above, I asked what storylines they were excited about getting back into, with Season 5 having only been officially announced a few days prior. Caplan started off by speaking to what will certainly be more of a dysfunctional than functional household, saying:

There's a whole bunch. I mean, I think it's gonna be so much fun to see what Becky living with Ben and Darlene looks like as they try to have a honeymoon year and start their own life. And she certainly is a little bit...she's drifting a bit at the moment. So that's going to be some major complications.

As if moving into their own home as a newly married and newly reconnected couple wouldn’t be hard enough for Ben and Darlene by themselves, there’s the added bonus of Becky and Beverly Rose. And Mark, of course, but he likely won’t dip back into troublesome waters after his amped-up journey down Not My Prescription Blvd. Plus, we’ll get to him again in a few.

I’m interested to learn what Caplan meant by Becky’s drifting causing complications in Season 5. The single mom obviously had it rough for a while, though she seemed to be pulling through with success, and even got lucky a few times. At least as far as staying intentionally sober goes, save for the setback at Dan and Louise’s wedding. She tried being a tutor mentor, which sorta blew up in her face, and she experienced pure mom-fear during the neighborhood shooter episode. But I can only hope for the best where Becky is concerned.

Excited Jackie and Neville in The Conners

(Image credit: ABC)

Bruce Helford spoke to the joys (or the anti-joys) of Dan and Louise’s future when Darlene and Becky move out — which may or may not be happening soon after the season starts — and the strangeness of Jackie’s happiness with Neville. In his words: 

And Dan and Louise actually having the house themselves, except for Harris, which could be a lot of problems. Louise is still not getting what she wants, not getting the privacy and everything that she and Dan want. And then Jackie and Neville. Jackie, who is constantly in danger of sabotaging her own life, that's going to be interesting in how she and Neville navigate all they have.

Dave Caplan followed up on that thought with a key insight that Roseanne and Conners fans are oh so familiar with, saying:

The happier Jackie is, the greater the chance she's going to muck it up somehow. So, she's really happy right now.

The way the executive producer words it, it sounds like Jackie may end up guilty for Neville’s murder in Season 5. Though perhaps we just have different definitions for how badly one can “muck it up.” So far, Jackie’s biggest issue in that relationship has been with Neville’s ex-wife and mother of his son, so that may play into things getting mucky. 

Speaking to the Dan and Louise of it all: while she was unfortunately missing for some of the season due to star Katey Sagal’s injuries after she was hit by a car, it’s safe to say Louise ranks among The Conners’ least content characters going into Season 5. Her wins are few and far between at this point, and while she obviously loves being with Dan, his insistence on not putting her on any kind of a pedestal is probably going to rock the boat a bit. 

Finally, Bruce Helford shined a little light on the creative process, saying they went into crafting the Season 4 finale with the confidence that the show would continue. He also talked about how Ames McNamara’s storyline for Mark will be a big hook for the season, and the family’s legacy as well. 

This was all was never thought that this would be a finale-finale, you know, a series-ender, so it was meant to set up lots of new branches to follow that will be interesting. And also, Ames, You know, he's a contrabassoonist. That's gonna be a big thing, because this is going to be the year where he applies for colleges and all that. And we've been building to, is one of this family gonna actually escape the orbit of poverty? So we'll see what happens.

The Season 4 finale did specifically mention there being a music room in the new house for Mark to get his contrabassoon on, and following the episode with Christopher Lloyd’s return as a guest star, Ames McNamara told CinemaBlend that the character’s musical pursuits were indeed an organic part of the story going forward. It would be wild if Mark found success through an orchestra of some kind, if only to see this wayward family getting gussied up to attend a performance. But that’s for another season. 

For now, those with Hulu subscriptions will be able to catch up with The Conners Season 4 while waiting for the new episodes to hit ABC later this year.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.