The Conners Reveals How William H. Macy's Character Brings Big Connections To Roseanne Years

Going into its Season 5 winter hiatus, The Conners spent a bit of time wallowing in the family history of its two eldest female leads, as Jackie dealt with the sad news of her mother Bev’s dementia (complete with a guest spot from Estelle Parsons), while viewers were privileged with meeting Louise’s mom for the first time, as portrayed by SNL vet Jane Curtain. When the show returns in January, fans will get to metaphorically step back into a Lanford landmark, thanks to impending guest star William H. Macy, whose arrival will not only shine a light into Dan’s past, but will also deliver some connective tissue to The Conners’ sitcom predecessor Roseanne

Who Is William H. Macy Playing In The Conners?

The Dropout thespian’s latest episodic jaunt will be as the character of Smitty Cusamano, a former high school classmate of Dan & Co. who clearly already has an advantageous shot at winning the Best TV Character Name Of 2023 title when his episode debuts on Wednesday, January 11. He sounds every bit like the kind of guy who would have a mustache as thick as a forearm, even as a high school freshman, and Macy is indeed rocking some mighty upper lip hair in The Conners

Smitty Cusamano, aside from assumedly being a guy who knows a guy who can get you a deal on anything, was something of an ambitious dude who put Lanford in his rear-view mirror not long after his years mixing it up with these characters viewers know so well. He managed to make a name for himself, while making a mint in the process, in the field of pool supplies, according to TVLine. Expect Macy to be playing things fairly big, as Smitty is described as being an “outgoing, salesman-type,” in the words of showrunner Bruce Helford. Anybody who’s seen Fargo knows how well he can sell that part, with or without the cheeky accent, gee golly.

Check out a first look at the character below.

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He doesn’t seem like the kinda guy who would just pop back into his hometown for shits and giggles, so it’s not a surprise that Smitty shows up for different reasons, He’s back in Lanford for the funeral for an adored English teacher, and won’t hesitate much about showing off his current status in front of others. I hope his clothes will be beer-proof, because I’m already forecasting somebody throwing a drink at him. (Unless his mustache is capable of sopping up any liquids that fly in its way, of course.)

How Will William H. Macy’s Character Connect To The Roseanne Timeline? 

  • #1: Obviously, being a former classmate of the gang is a connection unto itself for Smitty, but when he pops into the world of The Conners (as seen above), it will be within Lobo! The old Roseanne bar hangout hasn’t made a small screen appearance in many years, with it basically getting phased out as the flagship sitcom’s generational lines shifted upward.
  • #2: Perhaps surprisingly or perhaps not, Bruce Helford divulged that Jackie apparently had a crush on Smitty in their youthful years. Is that going to create any strife with Neville? Doubtful. I’d sooner believe Neville would be talked into buying pool supplies to help with an otter habitat or something. 
  • #3: While Jackie may have felt some puppy love from afar, Roseanne actually dated Smitty at some point before she and Dan were married. Which doesn’t rule him out as a rebound boyfriend during a period of strife for the iconic TV couple. I certainly hope he doesn’t get all weird when talking about her, only to learn that she’s dead now. It’s also teased that the appearance will incorporate some drama into the comedy, with William H. Macy being more than capable within any genre. (Mystery Men for all the wins.) 

Speaking to the idea of Lobo’s return, star Lecy Goranson talked to CinemaBlend ahead of the Season 5 premiere, saying at the time that she was excited to hear about the location making a return for The Conners. Here’s what she told us: 

I did hear that the Lobo lounge was coming back. It was just like our home set, it was a set that we had for a long, long time. And I think, you know, Becky working in the Casita kind of replaced that in a way it was like a hangout place, but that was like the OG hangout place for everyone when they weren't working. So for me, just to see it, I'm curious, you know, is it gonna be the same or is it gonna be like a renovated Lobo or what?

As uncomfortable as planned-out high school reunions can be, circumstantial reunions sparked by funerals certainly doesn't make things easier. But at least we can take comfort in knowing Macy will get to share the screen again with his former Shameless kiddo Emma Kenney when the show returns from its winter hiatus on January 11, 2023.

The Conners airs Wednesday nights on ABC at 8:00 p.m., and though it’s on vacation now, past Season 5 episodes are available to stream with a Hulu subscription. While waiting for the show to return, head to our 2023 TV premiere schedule to see what else is on the way 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.