Spoilers below for Episode 318 of The Conners, so be warned!
After rocking Darlene's world by killing off an O.G. Roseanne character, ABC's The Conners is on a hot streak when it comes to putting Becky (and viewers) through the emotional wringer, and the episode "Cheating, Revelations and A Box of Doll Heads" reached an authentic and unexpectedly harsh apex by digging into the root of Becky's alcohol dependency. Stars Lecy Goranson and John Goodman delivered the goods - as did Laurie Metcalf, because obviously - in a scene heartbreakingly centered around late actor Glenn Quinn's Mark Healy.
Ahead of Episode 318 airing on ABC, Lecy Goranson spoke with CinemaBlend about The Conners' extended journey into Becky's alcoholism and successive troubles with rehab. I mentioned how I thought the episode showcased how complex of a character Glenn Quinn's Mark was to still cause ripples this many years after the actor's own death in 2002, and asked for her thoughts on Becky and Dan's big blow-up over Mark arguably ruining Becky's life. In her words:
Absolutely. I thought that, I mean, it's just such a powerful scene. I think a lot of us kind of have myths in our family. I know, with my own family, that to me, my grandmother was the hero. For my mom, who had much more of a connection with her, she saw a lot more nuance than my myth. And I think Becky's myth of Mark, of her husband, and Dan's myth of him, it turns out when they really get to it and be honest about it, they realize that they've been kind of living these two myths about this person. I think it's very much what happens in real life, and I find it really interesting.
Indeed, many viewers can no doubt find familiarity in having opposing viewpoints with family members about other family members, and romantic partners are so often the catalyst. Becky has obviously always seen Mark in a completely different light than her father would, and can speak to far more of his positive qualities because of it. Dan, behind who he is, viewed the "selfish punk" Mark as more of a machine with busted parts, and one whose rather massive financial mistakes kept his daughter from getting a fair shot at achieving her goals. (While I'd love to assume Becky would reach those goals, this family has a history of low-barring it.)
Even though Dan and Becky have had their Mark-related arguments before, the murky feelings boiled over like never before during Becky's group session. Dan saying that Mark should have died sooner if he really cared about Becky was truly the unholy grail of "Dad musings," and sucked any mirth that was left right out of that room. Conners star Lecy Goranson wonders how things might have been different had Becky and Dan approached that topic before so many years of super-angst built up on top of it.
You wonder if it was dealt with before, if it would have been the same. Or if the power of the confrontation is why it was buried for so long. You know? It's kind of like a Catch-22. Like, let someone else set the fire, I guess.
While a lot of sitcoms feature actors that are wholly geared to comedy, The Conners' cast is anchored by mega-talents like John Goodman and Laurie Metcalf, who have long proven themselves capable of oozing magnetic gravitas to comedic projects, as well as the ability to infuse wry hilarity into the darkest moments. (Which Jackie did in a previous episode when lying about Becky's daughter being unable to breathe.) Which isn't to say Lecy Goranson is some newb off the street or anything, having been a part of this fictional family for the majority of its combined 13 years on television so far. Still, I asked if it helped to have Goodman and Metcalf's talents there to bounce off of when performing such emotional beats, and she said this about the "remarkable actors":
Well, that is an excellent point. What's interesting is, I know some of these episodes have been pretty dramatic, but I do feel like sometimes that drama brings out connectivity. At least Becky's relationship with Dan and Jackie, and my relationship with John and Laurie, it's so in the moment. You really feel their history and their connection, and it's really powerful. I think it's why we all need our loved ones during this past year. We all need connection, and there's certainly a depth of connection there. In part because I work with actors that are both grounded and also willing to put themselves out there emotionally. It's very exciting, and it's very intense.
In my eyes, Dan Conner would easily be somewhere on the Mount Rushmore of TV dads, or at least he would be trying to cut a deal to contract the work. To that end, Lecy Goranson spoke about the comfort level she has consistently felt over the years during scenes opposite John Goodman, saying:
I think it's so interesting that no matter where or what kind of mood I'm in as myself, when I go into a scene as Becky with Dan, with John, I immediately feel grounded and present. I don't know what it is; I don't know if it's kind of our chemistry or history, or the fact that I have a memory of our scenes together in the past. But it's really interesting, and I think it shows on television.
As awesome as it was/is on a certain level to watch The Conners tapping open long-gurgling emotional geysers with these beloved characters, I think maybe I just need showrunner Bruce Helford and his creative team to give us 22-minute-long opening credit sequences, where everyone is smiling and joyful and not chastising dead husbands (who may or may not deserve it). But also, with Harris dunking on Darlene, because that's always fun.
With a handful of episodes left to go in this roller coaster of a third season, and a season finale that paid behind-the-scenes tribute to a late crew member, The Conners airs Wednesday nights on ABC at 9:00 p.m. ET.