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The Conners Showrunner Explains Roseanne's Cause of Death

The Conners Showrunner Explains Roseanne's Cause of Death

The Conners, Roseanne, Roseanne Barr

The exited needed to be relevant and permanent. 

It was a bittersweet moment for the cast and audience of The Conners when the Roseanne-less Roseanne spinoff premiered last night on ABC. Following a racist tweet from Roseanne Barr earlier this year the popular sitcom's revival was axed by the network. In the drama-filled days that followed, candy for cable news channels, Barr attempted to negotiate with the network to save not only the show, but all of the jobs of the cast and crew attached to it. What they settled on was a spinoff where the titular character was completely removed, and last night's premiere detailed Barr's character's exit.

Related | Roseanne Barr: 'I Ain't Dead, Bitches!'

In a guest column for The Hollywood Reporter, Bruce Helford, the showrunner for The Conners who also worked on Roseanne during its initial run early in his career, explained the decision to have the matriarch of the Conner clan die from an opioid overdose.

"After much discussion by all parties, it was decided that we would have to make her departure clearly permanent. But her death would have to be reverent to the woman who was so beloved by her family. And the result would have to leave no shadow over Dan, Jackie, Darlene, Becky, DJ and all of Lanford. It was a crucial story point so that the other characters could truly move on boldly with their lives, evolve and grow. And on a personal note, Roseanne helped launch my career, and while we had our disagreements (she once fired me in Roseanne's original run), I wanted a respectful sendoff for her, too: one that was relevant and could inspire discussion for the greater good about the American working class, whose authentic problems are often ignored by broadcast television. If you watched the first episode, I hope you'll agree we did that."

Barr has expressed her displeasure with the cause of her character's death, though she earlier said she would remain neutral on the spinoff.

The Conners airs on ABC Tuesday nights at 8/7c. Read the full Hollywood Reporter column, here.

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