Note: This story features plot details from the opening episode of The Conners.
Roseanne Barr’s absence from the show that made her famous doesn’t seem to have had an immediate impact on viewership.
The Conners, a spinoff of Roseanne that was created after ABC fired Barr for a racist Tweet about former Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett, posted better overnight ratings than last season’s Roseanne finale.
While the show didn’t come close to capturing the numbers of the Roseanne revival’s premier (down 35%), the show, which stars John Goodman, Sara Gilbert, and Laurie Metcalf earned a 7.7 rating share, according to early numbers.
That’s respectable, though it fell short of CBS’s NCIS, which had an 8.1 rating. The big question, though, is how many people tuned in simply to see how the show handled the absence of Barr.
The Conners did so, as expected, by killing off the Roseanne character. On the show, Roseanne died due to opioids aggravating an existing health condition.
Barr didn’t take the onscreen death quietly. In a joint statement with Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, she said: “While we wish the very best for the cast and production crew of The Conners, all of whom are deeply dedicated to their craft and were Roseanne’s cherished colleagues, we regret that ABC chose to cancel Roseanne by killing off the Roseanne Conner character. That it was done through an opioid overdose lent an unnecessary grim and morbid dimension to an otherwise happy family show.”
Separately and on her own, Barr was more direct:
The Conners will run nine more episodes this season. More detailed numbers for the premier episode will be released later on Wednesday.