On a season finale that had both heartwarming and heartbreaking moments, fans were treated to two weddings, one breakup, and the beginning of a whole new chapter on The Conners Season 4 Episode 20.
Along with the fantastic news about the series being renewed for Season 5, we got to speak with executive producers Dave Caplan and Bruce Helford to unpack Ben and Darlene’s reunion, if Harris’ journey will still include Aldo, the possibility of Bev’s return to making Jackie and Neville’s life hell, and more!
Congratulations on the renewal! I was just looking back at The Conners Season 3 Episode 20, where we saw Ben turn down Darlene’s proposal. Was it always the plan to bring Ben and Darlene back together at the end of the season?
Bruce: Yes, and no.
Dave: You know, I can’t say it was a plan, but we couldn’t avoid having them back together in some fashion because Jay and Sara are so good together.
They spark so well in each other’s presence that we knew that even if we split them up and enjoyed all the deliciousness of that, we were going to have to get them back together in some fashion eventually. And this seemed like the logical way to do it.
Bruce: Yeah, they enjoy working together. Besides, it’s like we found a new relationship for them, which was battle mates. Then we found we wanted to give everybody a little bit of happiness at the end of this season. I think the world needed a little bit more happiness, and we provided some.
Dave: And the fact that they got to live without each other for a while made it a natural thing for them to want to put aside their sort of petty differences, in some sense, and want to be with each other forever. It just made sense at this moment.
Bruce: We wanted it to be credible that they would get back together, so we took quite a while to do it.
It seemed like fans were pretty divided on Ben and Darlene as a couple after last season because, at different times, you could see where they were both in the wrong. Were you expecting that sort of reaction?
Bruce: Well, yeah. Everybody had a very different view of it. Some people were like, “God, Ben. What a jerk. He’s being too rough on her.” And then other people were like, “Why has Ben even stuck around for one more second. She’s such an idiot and so frivolous in her decision-making.”
But that’s good, though. That’s really what we want.
Dave: I think we were hoping people would be divided because that meant that we made both of their positions credible. Because we didn’t want any villains. We wanted a real relationship where both people have emotional needs and points and disappointments.
And the more that that felt real, the more you know, the audience is going to be split down the middle. So we’re happy about that.
I think everybody breathed a sigh of relief when Harris and Aldo broke up. Harris has had a tough go of it the last few years. What’s next for her?
Bruce: Oh, well, Aldo’s not totally going away. He’s not done. Oh, he’s not done with her yet. It started out with her being rebellious. This whole relationship didn’t start out to be exactly a love affair. She wanted to get out of the Conner household.
Dave: Yeah, what Bruce is saying is so true. She wanted to get out, and I think that colored the idea of moving in with an older guy and stepping directly into another kind of life. And that only worked up until he was trying to exert his control over her.
As an 18-year-old young woman learning to be an adult, she had to take a moment and say, Wait a second, this is my life too. And just because I want to please you doesn’t mean I shouldn’t look after myself.
And so it was a big step for her in her emotional development to say, No, I’m not ready to have a baby. It’s not something that I want to do.
So it was a moment of growth for her. But Aldo’s a very emotional fella, and he’s not going to give up so easily.
Bruce: And we love Tony Cavalero. He’s just fantastic to work with.
Now, speaking of couples, I believe Becky is still technically married to Emilio, who’s in the country illegally. Are we going to see that dealt with going into Season 5?
Bruce: I’m sure we will. Becky is kind of next on the wheel of fortune to have something happen to her romantically. We also love Rene and having him around.
Emilio obviously has to be in her life because he’s Beverly Rose’s dad. But we don’t know. We haven’t really decided where that’s going yet. But there’ll be some tumult in her life, for sure.
You know, she’s going to be moving in with Darlene and Ben, into their new place. So that’s going to be an interesting development right there.
Yeah, that was another question I had going into season five. The living arrangements for everybody have always been centered on the Conner house. Now, Darlene is married and moving out along with Becky and her daughter. Harris’ living situation is kind of in flux.
Are we going to see a change? Is the focus going to be more on Darlene’s home? Are Dan and Louise going to become empty nesters? What’s your vision moving forward?
Bruce: The clue is they only move one block away.
Dave: Plus, we had to play the reality of people needing to move out, you know, in their 40s. It seems like a natural thing, a natural developmental phase to move out and seek your own life when you’re, you know, in middle age.
But no, we always say the Connors survive by banding together, and so, they always have an instinct to be together. So the fact that Darlene and Becky, and Ben are only a block away means you can see them in the Conner’s kitchen and living room an awful lot.
One of the things that struck me in the finale was that when they were talking about Beverly Rose, Darlene mentioned it would be good to have her in the house because Ben has always wanted kids. That’s been an issue in the past. Is it going to be a continuing issue for Darlene and Ben moving forward?
Dave: Well, it was an issue already. We did play some episodes where Darlene found out that she couldn’t have any more kids at her age, or it would have been dangerous or difficult. And Ben made no bones about wanting a kid. So it was something that was an obstacle they had to overcome in their relationship.
So I think we’re paying homage to that, and you know, trying to pull that forward and keep it real. Ben loves Beverly Rose, so it’s only a good thing to have her in the house as far as Darlene is concerned.
It appears Neville dropped the idea of trying to get Jackie’s mom, Bev, at the wedding since she wasn’t there. But is there any chance he will continue to try and mend that fence between the two of them?
Bruce: He’s a cockeyed optimist. He’s gonna try.
God bless, Estelle. You know, it’s been so difficult for her. She went through a very rough year. She lost her husband, and with the pandemic and everything else, it became just unlikely. We were able to get her at least one time during the season on camera. We actually shot it with a cell phone at her house.
But we’d love to have Estelle come back and make Jackie and Neville’s life hell.
Back when you first started the Connors reboot, did you have a vision for the future? And has that changed at all four seasons later, or is it still pretty much the same?
Bruce: I think it’s the same. It’s about the lives of the people. Roseanne was a matriarchal show and always from her perspective, which was correct for what was created. And this was meant to be the exploration of the individual family members and their lives, and I think that’s exactly what we’ve done and continue to do.
Dave: Yeah, absolutely. And as a collective, we think the Connors are representative of most of America. They’re struggling to make ends meet. They’re dealing with all of the social and familial, and economic issues that most of America faces, and those stories aren’t being told as much as they need to be told on TV.
So you know, we really felt we had an opportunity to reflect those struggles, and those obviously continue, and they’re getting worse. So the fact that the Conners deal with it with such good humor and love for each other and support for each other, we think is still relevant and still good.
Bruce: And they don’t let it stop their lives. They still find joy and enjoyment in life, but they are always swimming upstream.
Did you know you were going to have three couples married off by the end of this season, or did that just sort of evolve?
Bruce: At some point, we decided that it was going to be… We started the season with one wedding, and we thought, well, what if we end the season with three? So, it was really a bit in the wind as we started the season.
And one last question. Can you give us any hints or spoilers going into season five?
Bruce: Well, I mean, a few things. Aldo’s not going to give up. Harris is going to decide…this isn’t really a spoiler, but Harris is going to decide to live with Dan and Louise and not move back into her mom’s house. So Dan and Louise have basically a 19-year-old girl living in the house, and they’re going to have to deal with whatever she goes through.
And I don’t know. There’s a lot of other things we kind of laid in there.
Dave: Yeah, we’ll have to deal with the living situation of Becky living with the honeymooners, Darlene and Ben. And Katey Sagal, you know, she and John have always wanted to be together and have some space. And now they might have it, but sometimes you have to be careful what you wish for.
Bruce: And then Harris is going to be in that space too. So Louise isn’t going to get exactly what she wanted.
Dave: Yeah, so, you know, there are lots of good stories. The Conners are embarking on new chapters of their lives, and those new chapters bring new stories. So we’re pretty excited to tell those.
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C. Orlando is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow her on Twitter.