Note: This article contains spoilers for tonight’s season premiere of The Conners.
Tonight saw ABC air the series premiere of The Conners, a.k.a. “What You Get When The Star Of Your Most Successful New Sitcom Does A Bunch Of Shit That Forces You To Fire Them, The Show.” But while Roseanne Barr has been well and truly excised from the series that once bore her name—with ABC making it clear she won’t profit in any way from the “spin-off” series—she may have still gotten something approximating the last laugh.
About a month ago, Barr appeared on an internet chat show, announcing how disappointed she was in the way ABC had decided to kill Roseanne Conner off: an opioid overdose, building off a plotline that gradually built up through Roseanne’s last season, in which Roseanne developed a gradually worsening addition to pain pills after knee surgery. At the time, Barr called the decision “cynical and horrible,” stating that it wasn’t the way she wanted her long-running, groundbreaking TV character to go, while the rest of us tried to figure out if she was being serious, or just trying to kick up some trouble for the series.
But go that way she did, as revealed on tonight’s season premiere. At first, it seemed like Roseanne might have died in the way that so many absent TV characters (including John Goodman’s character, Dan, once upon a time) have gone over the years: a nice, safe, off-camera heart attack. But then it’s revealed that it was actually the medication, forcing the family to grapple with the loss in a far less sanitized way, and the rest of us to deal with the fact that Roseanne was totally right—and that she totally shanked her old series by revealing, a month before the fact, one of the biggest of its tightly controlled secrets.