The Conners' Stars On Jackie And Neville In Season 5, And How The Original Plans For Their Relationship Changed

Excited Jackie and Neville in The Conners
(Image credit: ABC)

With its third and fourth seasons, The Conners put just about all of its main characters through the relationship wringer in one way or another, and it’s bonkers to believe that it all led to the fourth season finale’s dual wedding madness. Possibly the most surprising turnout is the show’s most genuinely endearing and (largely) non-confrontational couple: Jackie and Neville. Granted, their lives will inevitably become more complicated now that they’ve tied the knot, but longtime fans have finally been able to witness Jackie celebrating a pure and healthy coupling after so many years of missteps. Pointing right at you, Fisher.

Ahead of Season 5 hitting the Fall TV schedule, The Conners stars Laurie Metcalf and Nat Faxon spoke with CinemaBlend's Sarah El-Mahmoud to give fans an idea of what’s coming for Jackie and Neville as they transition through the newlywed phase (at the same time as Darlene and Ben, no doubt). While Metcalf couldn’t speak about anything coming too far down the line, she’s definitely appreciative that her Emmy-friendly character is able to live and love a little easier with her new beau. In her words:

She's been, like, living in this world of chaos for 35 years, and now Nat and I are married on the show, Jackie and Neville, and finally [she’s] having a really good relationship. You know, they used to mine Jackie's relationships for the total dysfunction all the time, you know, but this one is really good. I don't know where they're planning to take it. It's a mystery to us, and I'm looking forward to finding out. But I'm enjoying that they're in a good place, or she is with this new guy. And yeah, we have our own apartment set now where we live, with pictures in it. [Laughs.]

Speaking to their apartment, Nat Faxon followed up with some optimistic thoughts about both the characters’ relationship and the future of The Conners itself.

That'll hopefully be here in 30 years when we're still doing it.

I’d also put my money on Metcalf easily being able to keep viewers watching Jackie’s foibles for the next 30 years. But to get to that point, the couple has to successfully make it through their very first year of marriage. But to get to that point, they’ll have to make it through the first episode of Season 5, which will include them sharing a honeymoon cabin with Darlene and Ben as a way to save money. Also, to destroy all manner of sanity, I guess. At least they don’t look too stressed in the robe-happy pic below.

Neville and Jackie in robes at a cabin in The Conners

(Image credit: ABC)

It’ll be up to Neville to dependably keep Jackie’s more destructive tendencies at bay in these earliest episodes. She’ll be moving to a truly new place for one of the first times in her adult life, which will come with its own transitional challenges, similar to what Darlene and Becky will no doubt experience as they get used to living together in a completely different house. Not that it’s just the home life that’ll cause minor strife at home. According to Nat Faxon:

We can say that we are trying to establish a good work-life balance. [As a] veterinarian, there's a little bit of, like, trying to balance those worlds.

Heaven help Neville any time he accidentally calls Jackie by the name of one of the animals from work, and doubly help him if he purposefully calls her the wrong name. Which sounds like a ridiculous notion, sure, but Laurie Metcalf teases things potentially getting a little beastly due to Neville’s job. As she put it: 

Yeah, he starts bringing his work with him, which doesn't sit well. That's an episode. But we really don't honestly know where it's headed.

I hope he brings up so many weird animals. My Wednesday night primetime viewing needs it. 

How Jackie And Neville's Relationship Evolved Beyond The Original Plans

For all that Jackie and Neville are now a core married couple within The Conners' ranks, Nat Faxon shared that he wasn't so confident that he'd make it to two episodes when he first landed the role, much less surpass two seasons. While it doesn't appear as if he was ever meant to be a one night stand or anything, Neville's staying power evolved over time, as opposed to being built in. In the actor's words:

I thought I was probably gone after one episode. I think there was an original thought of like, 'Oh, maybe this will be like a small recurring kind of arc or something.' But there was nothing in the contract that was like, ‘This is how long it will be, and you will be in this…’ It just sort of happened that way, and I am obviously thrilled that it did. Because you never know, you just kind of show up and you do your thing, and sometimes it goes on and sometimes it doesn't.

While she couldn't guarantee her take was gospel, Laurie Metcalf spoke more directly to the idea that her and Faxon's work together helped inspire the writers to keep the fictional relationship going strong. She continued:

I don't think they planned it, to tell you the truth. You could ask the writers, but I think they just saw that we have a good chemistry, and they started writing towards it. And like you said, I think it's fun to see [Neville] have joy and happiness, but [he is] the only character they could create that could deal with her insanity, but not being repulsed by it all, and will still stick with her and seemingly be a normal guy.

And if he turns out to be anything less than moral and joyful and kind, we will send harsh messages to his vet office's voicemail.

The Oscar-nominated Metcalf recently celebrated her fourth Emmy win for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy for her work as Weed on HBO’s acclaimed Hacks, and she was nominated for her excellence as Jackie for Roseanne’s tenth season ahead of The Conners’ coming to life. I’m pretty sure if the producers just offered up a clip reel of Metcalf as Drunk Jackie, she’d sweep every category, but it’ll be fun to see how her personality adapts to the newfound stability. 

As part of ABC’s big premiere week, fans can catch The Conners’ Season 5 debut (missing a former cast member) on Wednesday, September 21, at 8:00 p.m. ET, followed by the all new premieres of The Goldbergs (minus Jeff Garlin’s Murray), Abbott Elementary, and Home Economics. Everyone with a Hulu subscription can catch new episodes from all four shows the day after they hit primetime.

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.