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The Real Reason The Conners Flopped

There was a time not too long ago when sitcoms were all over the television scene, and people couldn't get enough. Of course, that's not to say that this type of programming is dead, but it's clear that the days of "Cheers," "Home Improvement," and "Friends" are far behind us. Although, these titles, and others like them, have managed to live on long past their respective finales. In special instances, some, such as the beloved yet often controversial "Roseanne," even got the revival treatment to tap into viewers' nostalgia for days gone by.

Over two decades after its farewell in May of 1997, "Roseanne" triumphantly returned in 2018 to the delight of longtime viewers. ABC spared no expense when it came to the cast, bringing back John Goodman, Sara Gilbert, and more, and audiences were incredibly responsive. Sadly for them, the reunion didn't last long, seeing as the network elected to fire the show's lead, Roseanne Barr, for racially charged comments she made on social media (via The Wrap). Thus, the "Roseanne" comeback wound up on the chopping block, but the story doesn't end there.

In hopes of keeping the legacy of "Roseanne" alive, ABC kept the rest of the series' cast around for a sequel: "The Conners." Despite its continuation well into the 2020s, the project hasn't quite succeeded in the ways many hoped it would. Here's why.

Roseanne set the bar too high for The Conners to succeed in the same way

To kick-off "The Conners," we meet the sudden revelation that Roseanne Conner (Barr) has died unexpectedly from an accidental drug overdose. In the aftermath, the titular family has to not only process her death but continue with their own lives on the trajectories set by "Roseanne" Season 10. On paper, this premise holds a lot of potential and gives us the chance to see the Conners in a new way. Once the initial shock of Roseanne's demise and the intrigue surrounding the Conners' reaction wore off, however, "The Conners" had to fight an uphill battle to justify its own existence as a "Roseanne" sequel without Roseanne.

As of this writing, "The Conners" continues along in its fourth season, and the possibility of a fifth remains up in the air. To its credit, it has managed to outlast most other small screen revivals of the modern era while maintaining a steady level of popularity, but it should come as no surprise that it hasn't nearly achieved the same success as "Roseanne" — a series that consistently topped the Nielsen ratings in its heyday. In fairness, cable television has fallen from grace since the 1990s, but even when "Roseanne" returned, its viewership numbers were nothing to scoff at. Whether or not that has to do with Barr's inclusion is up for debate.

All in all, "The Conners" is worth a watch for those who have a soft spot for "Roseanne" or simply want to support the show's extended cast. At the same time, even after four seasons, it has yet to match or surpass the success of its predecessor in the same way that other TV spin-off efforts like "Frasier" or "NCIS" did. Thus, in this way, one could classify it as a flop.