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How 'The Conners' dealt with Roseanne's exit

Nearly five months since ABC's much-publicized axing of its "Roseanne" revival from its lineup, the network premiered "The Conners," a half hour spin-off framed around the fictional family of Roseanne Conner.

Posted: Oct 18, 2018 7:15 AM
Updated: Oct 18, 2018 7:37 AM

Warning: This story contains spoilers about the series premiere of "The Conners."

"Roseanne" may be gone, but audiences still tuned in to watch "The Conners."

The ABC spinoff sitcom premiered on Tuesday to 10.5 million viewers making it TV's No. 1 series debut this season, according to the network.

Tuesday's viewership is on par with the finale of "Roseanne" last season, which nabbed roughly 10.5 million viewers, but it's a solid drop from the stellar premiere ratings the revival had last season.

"Roseanne" debuted to a staggering 18 million viewers in March, but it was canceled in May after its lead star Roseanne Barr made racist comments about Valerie Jarrett. The sudden cancellation of the hit series came as a major shock to the TV industry.

ABC announced in June that the show would go on, but without its main character. The network ordered ten episodes of the new show.

"Roseanne Barr will have no financial or creative involvement in the new series," ABC said at the time.

The first episode of "The Conners" takes place three weeks after the sudden death of Barr's character, which the family believed was caused by a heart attack. They later find out that Roseanne Conner died as a result of opioid abuse.

Some TV critics felt that the sitcom was better off without Barr.

"'The Conners' felt richer, after one episode, than the revived 'Roseanne' season did after nine," Vanity Fair's Sonia Saraiya wrote. "Barr's personality took up a lot of space on the 'Roseanne' set. Without her, the cast and the characters have a chance to breathe. And the result is an unlikely, appealing family sitcom with a motley crew of characters all held together by the same loss."

In a tweet posted after the show on Tuesday night, Barr appeared to be commenting on the status of her character, although she did not mention the show by name.

"I AIN'T DEAD, BITCHES!!!!" Barr tweeted.

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