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The Conners Season 5, Episode 6 Features A Book-Banning Storyline Ripped From The Headlines

This article contains spoilers for "The Conners" Episode 6, Season 5 — "Book Bans and Guillotine Hands."

"The Conners" and its mothership show, "Roseanne," have never shied away from writing episodes that are centered around current events. "Roseanne" long tackled wage inequity and poverty, and the series dedicated episodes to everything from LGBTQ rights to abortion rights to teen pregnancy and alcohol abuse. "The Conners" has followed in its predecessor's footsteps and spoken out about generational political divides, handgun violence, drug abuse, and alcoholism. 

This week's episode, "Book Bans and Guillotine Hands," saw Harris Conner-Healy (Emma Kenney) take to the streets to pass around a petition asking for the recall of a politician who has been threatening a book ban in her local town. She launches a little library, runs into some trouble with some neighbors, and ends up bumping heads with a surprising member of the family. But Harris' struggle to get her neighbors to care about their freedom of speech reflects a real-life trend toward book banning that has inflamed the national discourse.

Harris and Darlene have opposing points of view

During "Book Bans and Guillotine Hands," a neighbor in Harris and Darlene's new block (Ever Carradine) shows up to demand that they remove Harris' little library, claiming that it ought to be curated for content and they had to remove "Lady Chatterley's Lover" from the hands of a 9-year-old. Harris stands firm on her refusal to censor the material in the library, stating that her neighbors and their children have the right to read what they wish to.

Interestingly enough, during "Book Bans and Guillotine Hands," Darlene takes on a much more conformist pose. Afraid that Harris' little library will make her an outcast in the neighborhood where the family's new house is being built, she agrees to comply with the woman's protestations in the hope of earning herself a good reputation with her new neighbors-to-be. Harris is aghast at her mother's pro-censorship aims, and Darlene can't understand why Harris won't let her blend in. In the end, the little library can be seen in the Conner family's driveway with the words "go home, snowflakes" painted on it. In the end, Darlene agrees that leaving the library up is a good idea. 

Darlene and Harris' moral quandary is reflected by modern book-banning battles raging at schools and libraries across the country. As PEN.org noted, over 1,600 titles across 32 states have been banned from school libraries during the 2021-2022 school year. There have been multiple challenges at public libraries as well, per The Hill. Just another example of "The Conners" reflecting the reality we all live in