Fans will know that The Conners is, truly, all about personal relationships. But, while the show has always focused on the eponymous clan, how they deal with their differences as a family, and the way they brave their many (many) troubles together, that has never meant that romance is off the table as something to be explored. While new lovey-dovey relationships have been formed over the show's two seasons, many of the OG viewers who watched Roseanne still had hopes for Darlene and David. Now, though it looks like those hopes have been killed for good, because Jay R. Ferguson, who plays Darlene's boyfriend Ben, has just been upped to series regular.
Big, gruff, lovable Ben debuted in The Conners first season as Darlene's new boss, but that relationship grew very quickly for the pair into something much more. At the time, though, their new romance was under quite the strain (unbeknownst to Ben) because David had been sniffing around Darlene again, and she'd let herself fall back into having sex with him, hoping that they might be able to put their fractured family back together.
Darlene just couldn't decide who to cut loose. Her long history with David meant that she had some serious emotional ties (yeah, OK, and kids) with the man who was, honestly, too weak to stand up to her in their marriage to the point that he simply abandoned her and the children. For the first time, Darlene had met her match in Ben. He was both unwilling to let her totally run the relationship, but also beyond kind and understanding with all of her baggage, as well as being perfectly sarcastic enough to fit right in with the rest of the Conners, with everyone in the family liking him.
Even after the mess that was frequently Darlene and David's romance, there are plenty of fans who were hoping against all hope that the two could finally, really, make things work. But, according to The Conners executive producer, Bruce Helford, one of the reasons that Jay R. Ferguson has been made a regular cast member for Season 3 is how well he and Sara Gilbert (and their characters) play off of each other. He told TV Line:
Jay and Sara [Gilbert] have a long history. They were buddies since they were teenagers. And their chemistry is so freakin’ good. We didn’t know [the Darlene/Ben romance] was going to be long-term. We actually had plans at one point for her to be thinking about somebody else and kind of blowing this relationship up. But as we watched them we [realized] you can’t get much better than the way they act with each other because they’re two alphas going at it. And there’s a genuine affection between them in real-life.
My goodness. Can you imagine if Darlene had managed to save what will likely be her best romance only to have her eyes begin to stray, yet again? Ben was able to finally forgive her for two-timing him with David, but I doubt he'd have been willing to do that a second time. As it stands now, after they both lost their jobs at the tabloid they were working for, they reconciled and have gotten even closer. They're trying to have a baby, start their own publication, and have also committed to helping Dan keep the house, which will probably lead to Ben moving in with them.
Well, our hopes for some kind of Darlene / David revival may have been dashed, but at least Darlene finally has a romance that truly works for her, right? We can see what Jay R. Ferguson's Ben will have to put up with now when The Conners returns to ABC on Wednesday, October 21 at 9 p.m. EST.