The Conners Featured Louise In Queen Mode And Gave Darlene A Big Win (Eventually)

Louise smiling on The Conners
(Image credit: ABC)

Spoilers below for anyone who hasn't yet watched The Conners' latest episode, so be warned!

After being off for a couple of weeks, The Conners returned to ABC with "Big Negotiations and Broken Expectations," which put its pair of spotlights on some of the more obvious fissures forming in Dan and Louise’s marriage, as well as Darlene’s rare attempt to assert herself with sporadic confidence. For those prone to bouts of worrying, the episode legitimately made it seem as if everything would crumble to dust for the main characters, despite The Conners’ own inherent sitcom logic where everything sort of maybe turns out okay-ish for this family in the end. Credit where credit is due to Katey Sagal, Sara Gilbert, and John Goodman for never missing a beat.

Let’s break down those two story beats by pointing out why Louise proved herself worthy of Queen status in the household, and how Darlene’s stroke of good favor may aid in stopping her dad from continuing to dunk on his own marriage.

Louise on the phone on The Conners

(Image credit: ABC)

Louise Put Her Foot Down To Stop Dan's B.S.

Given the unfortunate injuries Katey Sagal suffered amidst filming, things had to get a little weird for Dan and Louise after their chaotic wedding — which Jackie referenced here by reminding everyone she married them, but not like that. Her return in full earlier in Season 4 came during a pretty dark episode, and since then, she’s been unable to put very many of her wants and needs as priorities, given Dan’s unyielding determination to assist in keeping his family afloat, if only barely, and through ill-advised means. That kind of behavior was obviously the norm when Roseanne was still in the picture, since that was life as she knew it for years on end. But Louise wasn’t about to sit on the back burner forever.

This episode in particular was very reminiscent of AMC’s Kevin Can F*** Himself, in that Dan obliviously bumrushed Louise with disappointments early on, and followed those up with jokey-jokes that did nothing to truly deflect the fact that he just didn’t give enough of a shit about Louise’s needs. Of course, John Goodman wrote a chapter in the Sitcom Husband Textbook, so it’s an infinity mirror of dysfunctional husbanding. But seriously, while I don't have particularly strong feelings about BTO, any spouse who bails on a highly anticipated concert in such a last-minute blasé manner deserves to sleep in a literal doghouse. 

Throughout it all, as barbed as she became, I was super-glued to Louise’s corner in her arguments/conversations with Dan and her funeral home spat with Becky, who did nothing to ease Louise’s frustration by unfurling her “Dependent Daughter of the Year” pennant and waving it like a rabid mascot. I gleefully exaggerate there, to make Louise look better, but her points remained salient throughout. 

Darlene, Becky and D.J. deserve their father's attention and love and efforts when needed, but Louise deserves a bigger piece of that…Dan…pie as well. (Probably a less crumbly metaphor.) Because if he keeps that kind of behavior up, she might just make him sleep with the fishes, presumably inside the bed. If there was a way for Dan to make $5 by agreeing to house fish inside their waterbed, I would 100% expect to find his name scrawled on that contract. Now give this queen her crown!

Darlene upset in a bar on The Conners

(Image credit: ABC)

Darlene Took A Risk And It Paid Off, But Very Nearly Didn't

Not that Louise had exclusive access to Dan’s terrible choices, as his choices for demolition crew members would have been better off settling down for eternity in that funeral home rather than doing anything destructive. So Dan’s money-skimping attempt to help Darlene just stressed her out by making her realize she needed more money to hire other workers, or else she’d never get out of that house. Which then dominoed into her lying to her boss to try and get a raise, and then her and Alexandra Billings’ Robin both lying to upper management to try and strong-arm a pair of raises with the threat of quitting. The fact that Harris was fully into the idea should have set off about 420 warning bells. 

Even though both Darlene and Robin temporarily lost their jobs with such a risky move, which itself opened up a can of honesty worms between them, they were thankfully all the better for it in the end. Robin’s confidence (which wasn’t quite as sturdy as she made it seem) that their bosses would find a way to cull the funds together ended up paying off, and Darlene’s decision to trust her and believe in her own talents worked out. Like, the show could end up revealing next week that their new jobs suck ass and come with all kinds of new responsibilities, but for now, financial victory!

The reason why Louise should be especially happy about this is two-fold. For one, Darlene relied on someone besides Dan and other people in and around the Conners’ house for financial and occupational issues, and it actually worked. Which means she’ll feel better about doing the same thing again in the future. And second, Darlene landing a long-awaited raise means less worry that her new home situation will fall through over funding. So less worry that Louise will have to continue sharing a home with those who demand Dan’s attention the most. Not to mention saving some money themselves. 

Really, everybody wins thanks to Darlene here, including Robin, who almost definitely wouldn't have made such an extravagant move to secure more money by herself. Depending on how things go, Mark's education might take a turn for the better again, and Harris certainly won't mind if Darlene is working more hours and isn't around. So yeah, everybody wins here. Except maybe Ben, but that’s fine, because he's Ben. [Drops a roll of paper towels in lieu of a mic.]

The Conners airs Wednesday nights on ABC at 9:00 p.m. ET, with the season finale coming on Wednesday, May 18. Check out new episodes the next day with a Hulu subscription and head to our 2022 TV premiere schedule to see when new and returning shows will hit the small screen in the coming months.

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.