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Why The Conners' Ames McNamara Thinks It's Important To Have Characters Like Mark On TV

"The Conners" follows television's seemingly unending trend of rebooting beloved sitcoms with modern updates and fresh new characters. The Conner family has expanded since we left them, last turning Dan (John Goodman) into a grandfather as all three of his children, Becky (Lecy Goranson), Darlene (Sara Gilbert), and D.J. (Michael Fishman), now have kids of their very own. In this batch of Conner grandchildren is "Shameless" favorite Emma Kenney as Darlene's daughter Harris and Ames McNamara as her brother Mark

While Harris' traits are easily traced back to her sometimes cynical mother Darlene, Mark is very different from the rest of the Conner family in a variety of ways. He's much more artistic and sensitive than the rest of the loud and sometimes gruff bunch but lovingly fits in all the same. He's also a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community as he came out as gay to his mom in Season 2 Episode 2, "A Kiss Is Just a Kiss."

This representation is critical on "The Conners" with the power to reach a wider audience and possibly even change minds through the family's depiction of acceptance. At first, the family patriarch Dan is uncomfortable with the idea of a queer grandchild. However, he soon comes around after thoroughly communicating with Darlene. McNamara himself even has some heartwarming insights on why characters like Mark are so important and why he enjoys bringing the character to life.

Ames McNamara relishes in Mark's individuality and evolution as a character

Mark has changed immensely from the young, colorful boy we first met in Season 1. As of Season 5, he's grown into a mature young man with his own ideas and perspectives who's even fallen in love a few times. This consistent change is reflective of the actual stages of adolescence, which is far more authentic than stagnant teen caricatures that merely portray familiar tropes. 

Ames McNamara shared his meaningful experience as Mark on "The Conners" with Young Entertainment. "I really enjoy playing Mark, not only for who he is, but his family and his relationships with his family," he said. "But I think it's really cool that there's someone like Mark on TV for kids to relate to and I just think it's good to show all sorts of people on TV because TV should reflect real life and in real life everyone's all different." This is evident through the show's inclusive approach to storytelling by fleshing out the family from their "Roseanne" origins.

McNamara continued by sharing why his role on "The Conners" is so special to him personally, "I love playing Mark because I just think he's a really interesting person and a constantly evolving person, like everyone is, and I've really enjoyed getting to see him grow throughout the seasons." We've seen this early on in Season 5 not only through his surprising growth spurt but also through his emotional and complicated long-distance relationship, which he eventually tells Darlene about.