Spoilers below for anyone who hasn't yet watched The Conners' latest episode, so be warned!
Here in The Conners Season 4, arguably the biggest conflict happening in Lanford — or at least the parts of Lanford that viewers are privy to — revolves around Darlene and her struggles to get over Ben. Even if she wasn’t into the idea herself, it’s what just about everyone around her is telling her to do anyway. Except for maybe Mark. And so she’s clearly making attempt after attempt to find an outside-the-box solution to her problems by going completely macro with her approach, by way of seeking out a higher power through religion and philosophy. But what should be her true source of guidance has been staring her in the face quite literally all along: it’s her family!
Specifically, Darlene should derive wisdom from the actions (and probably not the advice) of both the generation above her, via her father Dan and Louise, as well as the younger generation, via Harris, if not necessarily Aldo, who fits snugly into the same generation as Darlene herself. And since Becky is having her own issues in trying to figure out whether or not she needs a relationship, and since D.J. is just kind of nowhere to be found a lot of the time, it’s probably best for Darlene to not glean advice from those closest to her in age. Now let’s dig into that idea a little more.
What Darlene Could Learn From Harris (Okay, And Aldo)
Sure, from the outset, Harris getting into a romantic relationship with the much-older goofball Aldo seems like a doomed-to-fail narrative trick meant to stress Darlene out on top of all of her other problems. However, I’m inclined to now believe that’s not truly the case at all, even if I also don’t necessarily think that Harris and Aldo are destined for their own wedding episode anytime soon. (But oh, man, now I kind of want one, if mainly to see how gnarled and gnarly Aldo’s family tree looks.)
What Darlene needs to do is truly just give into Harris and Aldo’s lovebird-iness at this point, and in a way that’s more genuine and authentic than using Taoism as a springboard for sabotage. Even though they haven’t been dating for that long, Harris is already helping Aldo with his dorkily demonic kids, which are probably the kinds of outcasts that Darlene would have gotten along with at that age. You know who else developed a healthy relationship together despite not being blood relatives? Why, Ben and Mark, of course. (See also: the next Season 4 episode.)
As well, even beyond the childlike glee on the faces of Emma Kenney and Tony Cavalero during their big scene in this episode, the biggest sign of evidence that Harris and Aldo are serious about things is the eagerness in which they’re willing to move in together. To the point where they just immediately sprang to action once the topic came up. You know who most certainly did not immediately spring to action under similar circumstances? Why, Darlene herself, of course. And that inability to move forward without getting distracted by other problems is one of the biggest reasons why Ben turned down her marriage proposal.
What Darlene Could Learn From Dan And Louise
While there are no doubt many reasons to avoid following in Dan Conner’s direct footsteps, Darlene could certainly learn a thing or two from Dan’s relationships with both Roseanne and with Louise. Namely when it comes to ways of finding happiness and acceptance in situations that aren’t perfect by any means. Not that Darlene comes anywhere close to resembling a perfectionist, she does have a certain amorphous idealized notion in her head of what a happy relationship should be. And while that can be absolutely healthy in a vacuum, Darlene has a way of blocking out all other paths to happiness and glory.
Just in this episode — titled “Peter Pan, The Backup Plan, Adventures in Babysitting, and A River Runs Through It” — Darlene could have learned a solid lesson from her father and new step-mother. Due to the storm that almost wrecked their wedding, but didn’t because they’re troopers, the Conner household suffered roof damage that kept the newlyweds from taking a proper honeymoon. (Which probably wouldn’t have been all that extravagant in the first place, but still.) But instead of spending the whole episode complaining about it, Dan become fully invested in Becky’s idea to substitute virtual reality adventures for real-world trips. Not that the VR side of things was handled completely realistically, but it was a sign of Dan’s ability to grip the silver lining for all its worth.
Later, Louise could have bitched Dan out for spending too much time over in VR land, but she instead appeals to his romantic side and says the lack of a honeymoon isn’t a problem so long as they’re together as husband and wife, roof problem be damned. And sure, Darlene obviously wasn’t present for that bedroom scene, so she probably couldn’t have used that exact example as a form of inspiration, but it’s only one example of Louise’s form of “happiness without settling” that she could utilize.
Now, I’m not really here to advocate for which way Darlene should go with a more informed decision for her love life, as I just want her to realize happiness isn't always has hard to find as it looks. And it does sound like she may have a couple of temporary beaus to deal with in the coming weeks. Still, I would be very shocked if the creative team doesn’t bring her and Ben back together before all is said and done. And if that’s the case, then she should come into that equipped with knowledge she’s picked up from watching how her daughter and father handle their own relationships. Unless she just happens to secretly like thriving on misery, because that's okay, too, so long as it's what she wants.
Find out what will happen in Darlene’s life next when The Conners airs Wednesday nights on ABC at 9:00 p.m. ET. And don’t forget about all the other upcoming premieres in the 2021 Fall TV schedule to watch while chowing down on leftover Halloween candy.
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.
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