The Conners Is Already Giving Emma Kenney Another Shameless Reunion With A+ Guest Star

The Conners may have bid a subdued farewell to O.G. star Michael Fishman with its fifth season, but the door was (as always) left partially open for guest stars to join the sitcom family’s fun and foibles. So far this season, the biggest new addition was Shameless vet Ethan Cutkosky, who was brought in as Neville and Louise’s nephew Caleb, making the first former co-star reunion for Emma Kenney. Now, the ABC comedy is ushering in another big Shameless vet in the form of William H. Macy.

The Emmy-winning and Oscar-nominated actor is set to join The Conners Season 5 at a currently undisclosed point, according to TVLine. But while we don’t know the when of it all, we do know who Macy will be portraying. He’ll show up at some point as a character named Smitty, who was one of Dan’s high school BFFs. 

For one reason or another, Smitty makes a trip to Lanford, which puts him back in contact with Dan, but the fact that there aren’t any details about why he’s there makes me think it’s going to entail unfortunate circumstances. I mean, The Conners does sometimes bring in new faces for storylines that involve positive storyline arcs, but more often than not, there are dark underpinnings involved, and sometimes outright death. And a name like Smitty doesn’t automatically imply pizazz and good fortune, though the character’s class level may depend on how much facial hair Macy is rocking when filming kicks off. 

Frank with frazzled hair and beard on Shameless

(Image credit: Shameless on Showtime)

William H. Macy is an established pro at pulling off hilarious comedic roles, heartfelt dramatic moments, nail-biting tension, and more, as evidenced in his best movies and TV shows. So here’s hoping The Conners showrunner Bruce Helford & Co. find ways to utilize those talents in full. Macy and Goodman could easily lead their own standalone series together, so I wouldn’t be mad if the entire ep was focused on Dan and Smitty reuniting.

Speaking of such reconnections, before her big reunion with Ethan Cutkosky, Emma Kenney got to work in small part with her Shameless co-star Noel Fisher back in Season 2. He recurred across three episodes as Dan’s half-brother Ed, and it sounds like the writers wanted to give John Goodman another look back at his past through Macy’s Smitty. And let's not forget that current star Katey Sagal is also an alum of the Showtime dramedy, having recurred throughout Season 9 as Dr. Ingrid Jones, the recipient of what she believed was Frank's sperm. As one might imagine, I'd have zero complaints if Louise played a major role in Dan and Smitty's arc.

Macy starred as Frank Gallagher for all eleven seasons of Shameless, earning Emmy nominations for six of those season. Earlier this year, he starred in Hulu's true-scheme drama The Dropout opposite Amanda Seyfried, and is part of the all-star cast of the upcoming comedy Maybe I Do, which also boasts Susan Sarandon, Richard Gere, Diane Keaton and Emma Roberts.

The Conners airs Wednesday nights on ABC at 8:00 p.m. ET. Head to our 2022 TV premiere schedule to see what other new and returning shows are popping up soon.

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.