After much controversy, the anticipated spinoff of Roseanne, The Conners, premiered on Tuesday, October 16, and while some Roseanne Barr fans pledged that they wouldn’t watch, millions of others did tune in.
The Conners became the top-rated show of Tuesday nights with a premiere rating of 2.3 in its demographic of adults aged 18-49 with 10.5 million viewers. While the rating comes well below that of the Roseanne revival premiere back in March which eclipsed all others with a 5.2 rating and 18.4 million viewers, The Conners matched the Roseanne revival finale which drew a 2.5 rating and 10.6 million viewers.
Numbers are also expected to go up once the Live +3 and Live +7 viewership numbers are factored in, but of course the big test will be to see if many tuned in just to see how Roseanne’s absence would be dealt with, and next weeks ratings will be very telling for the show.
For ABC, the premiere ratings were definitely a win as the network wasn’t expecting Roseanne-level premiere numbers as internal industry marketing research suggested audience interest in the spin-off was tracking about half that of viewer interest in Roseanne before its return.
Before the series even began, Barr revealed that her character was written off by dying from an opioid overdose and in the premiere the family struggled with the revelation after originally thinking she died of a heart attack.
After the premiere, Barr took to Twitter to share a link to her lengthy statement on what she thought of the premiere. “While we wish the very best for the cast and production crew of The Conners, all of whom are deeply dedicated to their craft and were Roseanne’s cherished colleagues, we regret that ABC chose to cancel Roseanne by killing off the Roseanne Conner character. That it was done through an opioid overdose lent an unnecessary grim and morbid dimension to an otherwise happy family show,” Barr and Rabbi Shmuley Boteach said in a joint statement.
The Conners airs Tuesdays, 8 p.m. on ABC.
Roseanne: 12 Most Controversial Episodes
12. Twenty Years to Life/Dress to Impress (S10, E1 & 2)
Twenty-five years after fans said goodbye to Roseanne with the season nine finale on May 20, 1997, the show made its big return with a special one-hour premiere on March 27, 2018. While a lot had changed in the world, the Conners were just as we left them, just a little older, but still stirring up controversy. Before the revival could even premiere, many were taking a stance because they believed the show would be “too political” now. While the tumultuous state of politics was definitely addressed, it wasn’t a focal point, but audiences still took issue with it. Additionally, the revival’s premiere introduced the show’s first ever gender-nonconforming character with Darlene’s son Mark, which caused a stir for the series’ more conservative viewers.