Louise Goldufski is officially one of The Conners.
Dan’s longtime girlfriend (played since Season 1 by recurring guest star Katey Sagal) married into the blue-collar family during Wednesday’s episode of the ABC comedy, which saw a dangerous tornado rip through the church and nearly derail the proceedings. But Jackie, who was previously ordained online, was able to step in for the minister and officiate the precarious ceremony.
The nuptials also brought together exes Ben and Darlene, who had not spent any considerable amount of time in the same room since Ben broke things off in the Season 4 premiere. Making matters even more awkward was the fact that Darlene had invited Jeff to be her (platonic) plus-one. Additional plus-ones included Harris’ new boyfriend Aldo (played by John Goodman’s Righteous Gemstones costar Tony Cavalero), and Becky’s friend-with-benefits Mikey (more on that relationship here).
Below, executive producers Bruce Helford and Dave Caplan reflect on Dan’s difficult journey to the altar, as well as what comes next for both the newly married Dan and Louise, and the consciously uncoupled Ben and Darlene.
TVLINE | Neither of you were attached to the original Roseanne until Seasons 5 and 10, respectively, so I don’t suppose the tornado was an homage to the Season 1 episode “Toto, We’re Not in Kansas Anymore”?
HELFORD | No, actually. We had decided on the tornado and then someone in the writers’ room said to us, “You know, there was an episode about a tornado,” and my comment was, “Well, I’m from Chicago and there’s more than one tornado you live through in your life.” I experienced a lot of tornadoes. Some of this was also based on when I was a kid and we had my bar mitzvah. It occurred during one of the worst ice storms in Chicago’s history. On the drive to the synagogue, we hit three parked cars as my father was skidding around, trying to get there…
CAPLAN | We didn’t think it made sense for Dan to get bar mitzvahed at this point, so we went with the wedding instead. [Laughs]
TVLINE | Talk to me about the decision to play this less as a wedding episode, and more as a natural disaster episode…
CAPLAN | A traditional wedding episode wouldn’t have felt like The Conners. [Laughs] A lot of things in the Conners’ lives are tumultuous, so it only made sense to have a tumultuous wedding as well…. A lot of what the Conners are about is perseverance. Giving them a wedding that is challenging and seeing them persevere and find happiness amongst the literal rubble appealed to us.
HELFORD | It created a great setting and gave way for some tension. We said, “Everybody watching knows they’re going to get married, so can we have some fun along the way?” It gave us more movement, and there were plenty of other things going on causing craziness — Ben and Darlene, Becky and her sobriety — which made it feel like a storm within a storm.
TVLINE | There were a few would-be attendees not able to make it due to the storm. None of them were named, but off the top of my head I thought of Bev, Ed Jr. and Crystal, DJ’s wife Geena, Dan’s friends Chuck and Dwight — all characters who have appeared throughout the first three-plus seasons of The Conners. Was part of the decision to have the tornado occur to work around scheduling hurdles and COVID protocols?
HELFORD | There were a couple of things: First, the availability of the actors. James Pickens Jr., for instance, has this really hardcore schedule over on Grey’s Anatomy, and it’s very hard for Estelle Parsons to travel right now, so that was all in the midst of the discussion… There would have been a lot of those people, but they weren’t available. We also had in mind that we didn’t want to crowd the stage during COVID.
TVLINE | Having referenced the character of Roseanne Conner so much in the lead-up to the wedding — “Dan and Roseanne did things this way,” or “Dan and Roseanne got married that way” — did you discuss potentially acknowledging her in this episode?
CAPLAN | That was a big topic of discussion in the writers’ room, about how much to have that discussion [in these early Season 4 episodes]. We took such care during the whole first season, after the character wasn’t in the show anymore, and we’ve never shied away from discussing Roseanne Conner’s impact on the family. Dan had such a difficult time dealing with her death and moving on, and we felt like we were very thorough there, and very respectful of both the Roseanne character and of Dan’s feelings.
HELFORD | And by the way, we’re not done discussing that. There are things that come up as Louise moves into the house, as it is appropriate and as it feels real.
TVLINE | We’ve previously spoken at length about the decision to slow-burn Dan and Louise, and how much of that had to do with Goodman’s desire to take things slow, and to honor what Dan had with Roseanne. I had that in mind when I was watching that final scene, as Dan embraced Louise and referred to her as “Mrs. Conner” for the first time. Those two sure have come a long way, and Goodman seems to really enjoy playing that relationship now.
HELFORD | Yes… He and Katey have a great relationship. The scene where Dan says how she’s made his life better, and Louise says something along the lines of, “I’m going to call you my hubby, and I love saying it,” I welled up every time we ran that scene because their chemistry is just so good. They’ve become such good friends on stage and have such a good time together that it has become very real. That speaks a lot to that performance. It’s very natural and very nice.
TVLINE | Now that Dan and Louise are hitched, what sort of storylines are going to arise for them — not just as newlyweds, but as newlyweds of a certain age?
CAPLAN | We have an episode coming up where he thinks about what it means to dispense with the past and move onto the future. It feels natural to Louise, but it’s still difficult for him in places.
HELFORD | Right away we are going to get into that, because she is going to be living in the Conner house, and it’s her house, too, and there are certain things that happen when you join lives, like, “What do we do with the furniture?”
CAPLAN | As you said, they are of a certain age. What happens when you’ve lived a full life, but now you’re trying to start a new life?
TVLINE | Louise brought up the fact that they have a very full house. Is that going to become an issue?
HELFORD | Yep! That house is crowded! And I don’t envy Louise moving in. You’ve got a baby and a daughter in the basement, you got a daughter upstairs and her two kids living in the bedroom, Jackie seems to live there even though she doesn’t because she is there as much as she is not… In the wedding scene, Ben refers to the house as a “kennel” with so many people living there. [Laughs]
TVLINE | I’m surprised that Dan hasn’t considered building an apartment over the garage by now!
HELFORD | We talked about that, actually, but we didn’t want to lose the garage. We make a joke that we keep adding rooms upstairs for people to live in.
TVLINE | When Jeff was first introduced, I thought you were setting up another love triangle in the vein of Darlene, Ben and David, but that’s not what has transpired. In fact, Jeff seems like the furtherest thing from a love interest…
HELFORD | I don’t think Darlene would ever go for a guy like Jeff. After losing Molly, when she was going through her crisis of feeling like she needed to live more, Jeff was a guy who… lived every moment. He traveled and he took jobs, just to move on to the next, and so he seemed like a fun traveling companion, or someone to hang around with. We love Brian Austin Green, but he was never meant as a serious love interest.
CAPLAN | Jeff was collateral damage in the relationship between Darlene and Ben.
TVLINE | Now that Darlene and Ben are on speaking terms, where does their relationship stand?
CAPLAN | What makes it even more complicated going forward this season is that Ben is kind of part of the Conner family. We were saying that the Conners are like the mafia: Once you’re in, you’re in. You’re not getting out. And Ben is in, and has relationships with everyone — he works with Dan, and he’s close to Becky, and he’s very friendly with Mark — and so now Darlene is faced with the idea of “How do you live in proximity to somebody who broke your heart?” It’s not fair to the rest of the Conners to try and excise Ben from their lives, and Darlene knows that, so she has to figure out how to move forward when you’re in a room with someone you thought you were going to spend the rest of your life with, and now you know it’s not going to happen. That’s going to be the basis of a lot of stories for us, and developing a new relationship for Ben and Darlene over the course of the season. It’s complicated, but that’s what makes it so fun and interesting.
TVLINE | Harris cleverly introduced Darlene to older boyfriend Aldo at the wedding so she couldn’t make a scene. How is Darlene going to respond to that relationship moving forward?
CAPLAN | Darlene is on a spiritual journey to find some peace for herself, so the Aldo/Harris relationship comes at a really bad time. She has to figure out how to deal with it in a way where she won’t wreck her relationship with Harris.
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