One Way The Conners Should Change To Be More Like Roseanne

Now a fourth of the way through its fourth season, The Conners has definitely changed up its status quo from past seasons, from Darlene and Ben's post-breakup mess to Dan and Louise tying the knot (during a tornado) to Becky's sober approach to life (and sex). Those first five episodes featured multiple references to the late matriarch Roseanne Conner, and with even more are on the way, can we agree that The Conners needs to be inspired by the mothership sitcom in at least one specific way? That's right, we're talking about that years-old opening titles sequence. I think 

For anyone who watched Roseanne during its initial nine-season run, either live or via syndicated reruns, one of the sitcom's most memorable elements was its ever-changing opening credits. While it was always centered around the iconic kitchen table, with the family gathered for a gleeful meal, that opening was refilmed a variety of times (including for the revived Season 10 in 2018), with the theme song's musical also changing up as time went on. Not to mention the way the cast members were noted, with Roseanne Barr's marriage to, and divorce from, Tom Arnold being noted in the actual credits. 

Yet The Conners has surprisingly stuck with the same opening titles that it introduced to viewers with its first season following Roseanne Barr's firing. And it's meant to depict the first family breakfast after the fictional Roseanne's death via overdose, which is quite the maudlin backstory for a credits sequence. By all means, if The Conners maintained the exact same cast members and character dynamics as it started with in Season 1, keeping that opening would be more of a curiosity than anything else. But considering new characters have been introduced that connect to every main (adult) character, it's kind of baffling that the producers haven't delivered any updates there. 

Speaking with TVLine recently, showrunner and executive producer Bruce Helford addressed that topic in a way that makes it seem like there are no plans to film a new opening. In his words: 

We really haven’t changed or altered those in any way [since Season 1]. Honestly, I imagine if we did alter them, we would be including [Katey Sagal]. But as far as her technically being a regular, and whatever that means contractually, we leave that open.

Sure, it's understandable that The Conners didn't necessarily want to immediately shoehorn Katey Sagal's Louise into the credits sequence in Season 3, when she was splitting her time between the ABC comedy and her short-lived drama Rebel. Granted, Sagal made it clear that she was keeping The Conners a priority even during that time, but no one could have predicted the future, so it's fine to play that one as a "wait and see." But now that Dan and Louise are full-on married? Why wouldn't she be at the table going forward?

Ben at kitchen table talking to Darlene on The Conners

(Image credit: ABC)

And even though I've been a naysayer when it comes to Darlene and Ben's couple-dom, I've made my peace with the notion that the characters are going to develop an even stronger relationship as they navigate becoming friends again during their break-up. Otherwise, Jay R. Ferguson would likely leave the show, and that's not happening. But that is basically a moot point, since Ben arguably should have already been part of the opening credits in Season 3, when he and Darlene were seemingly destined for an engagement. I'll admit that it would have been weird to see him sitting around and joking with everyone to kick off Season 4, seeing as how he crushed Darlene's spirits in turning down her proposal. But not necessarily more weird than seeing the same opening four years in a row.

So while I'm not asking for The Conners' producers to call up Blues Traveler and whatever other musicians to step up and create different theme songs for every single episode on the way, I am asking for the ABC comedy to pay homage to its origins by changing something. Even if it's just a framed picture of Katey Sagal digitally inserted into the background. Or maybe not. 

The Conners airs Wednesday nights on ABC at 9:00 p.m. ET, with the upcoming episode showing off how well Becky is doing with her college experiences. (Which probably means doom isn't too far off.) Check out all the big 2021 Fall TV premieres still left to debut! 

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

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.