New Details For Whoopi Goldberg's Role In The Conners Reveal Past History With Family

Whoopi Goldberg in The Conners
(Image credit: ABC)

The Conners gave audiences one of the sitcom’s more shocking storylines with Episode 515, with Emma Kenney’s Harris facing the harsh reality of a sudden miscarriage, just one week after discovering she was pregnant. The ABC hit is following up on that emotional storyline with a guest spot from network regular Whoopi Goldberg, who took a little time away from The View to make the trek to Lanford. And while the initial reports pointed to how she fit into the current-day story, new details reveal how Goldberg’s new character factors into the central family’s past. And perhaps unsurprisingly, she’s got some beef with Jackie. 

Who Is Whoopi Goldberg Playing In The Conners? 

Having boosted her on-screen appearances in the last year outside of The View — in TV projects such as Harlem, Godfather of Harlem and Star Trek: Picard, among others, while helping tell Till’s tragic story on the big screen — Whoopi Goldberg is set to join The Conners as Holland Glen, a music teacher with more than a few sharp edges. Kudos to these writers for this season’s guest character names, with William H. Macy’s “Smitty Cusamano” still holding the title.

When the EGOT winner’s guest spot was first announced, her character was noted as being an intimidating force in Mark’s life as his music teacher, as the Conners’ most brainy family member attempts to land a seat in Lanford High’s chamber orchestra. Seems like it shouldn’t be too much of a long shot, since Mark has been honing his musical talents ever since Christopher Lloyd reprised his Roseanne role of Lou to serve as Mark’s contrabassoon instructor. As one does. 

Except, it might not be that easy at all, since Ms. Glen is still harboring ill will towards Laurie Metcalf’s Jackie over a seemingly mild transgression from their high school days.

How Do Holland Glen And Jackie Know One Another? 

It’s unclear at the moment whether or not Goldberg’s Ms. Glen has any particular memories about Dan or Roseanne, but she clearly hasn’t forgotten about Jackie. In a clip from the show shared by TVLine, the music instructor pops into the Lunch Box, where Darlene’s attempts to totally innocently and not at all bribe-ish-ly give Ms. Glen some pie went unfulfilled. But she might not have savored any pastries cooked by Jackie anyway. 

As it turns out, Whoopi Goldberg’s character was a drum major during their Lanford High years, at the same time when Jackie was a boffo rifle-twirler for the school’s color guard. They were assigned spots near one another, which led to Jackie smacking Holland in the head with her rifle, which the latter swears up and down was done purposefully, while Jackie swears it was just an accident.

Holland calls Jackie out for wanting to be spotlight-focused at the center of attention, which doesn’t quite sound like the woman we all know and love, and says she was always using her rifle skills to show up Holland. It seems like there has to be some backstory involving jilted romances, broken trust or other issues. Unless Jackie swung that rifle like a baseball bat while maliciously staring her bandmate in the eyes, I don’t wholly believe she’d still be carrying a grudge all these years later.

Whatever the reasoning, though, Jackie and Darlene better hope they can squash those sour feelings, since Ms. Glen’s mood and attitude will likely be a key factor in Mark’s potentially landing that orchestra chair. Not that it would likely cause any apocalypse-lite disasters within the family, but let’s not give Mark reasons to fall back on addictive tendencies.That said, does anyone really think Darlene and Ben’s smiling nature will last all that long?  

Darlene and Ben smiling for Mark's performance in The Conners

(Image credit: ABC)

The Conners will welcome Whoopi Goldberg when “The Contra Hearings and the Midnight Gambler” hits ABC on Wednesday, March 8, at 8:00 p.m. ET. Anyone needing more laughs from their primetime hours should plan ahead with our 2023 TV premiere schedule, while petitioning for Goldberg’s renewed Sister Act 3 hopes to be made into reality post-haste.

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.