The Conners was live in front of a fully vaccinated and masked studio audience for The Conners Season 4 Episode 1.
It was a season premiere that had its humorous and emotional ups and downs.
The upside was that it gave us some quick resolution for Ben and Darlene.
Last season, Darlene decided to ask Ben to marry her. Instead of Ben being thrilled with her grand romantic gesture, or at least as grand as romantic gestures get with the Conner family, he turned her down flat.
Darlene was crushed, but she obviously still held out hope for a reconciliation.
Dan: The best thing you can do is give him the space he asked for.
Darlene: Oh, yeah, I’m done with that. No good ever came from a man thinking too long.
So Darlene went all in. She put a $1,200 deposit down on an apartment for her and Ben.
I’m hoping she meant her and Ben and Mark, but no mention was made of whether Mark would stay at his grandfather’s or live with Ben and Darlene. With David being MIA, it would have been nice to see Darlene talk to her youngest child about the possible move.
Maybe she did, and we’re supposed to assume it was off-screen, but with Darlene, it could go either way, which is disconcerting.
But back to the saga of Ben and Darlene.
The moment Ben walked into the factory and saw Jeff, it was clear where this was going.
Oh, you’re Ben. You don’t look like an uptight buzzkill at all. You look more like a hipster werewolf sort of guy.
Jeff’s not completely wrong about Ben. Darlene was in a bad place emotionally and mentally last season. She was having panic attacks. Her friend had died. She took a job at the factory so that Ben could follow his dream of making a podcast.
The fact the Ben decided to take over his late father’s hardware store was his decision, not Darlene’s.
And when Darlene pleaded with Ben that she needed to use the money Molly left her to take the vacation that Molly wanted her to have, Ben acted like Darlene was betraying him and their relationship.
From his point of view, he’d already sacrificed a lot, and he had, but his anger towards Darlene felt selfish.
Imagine how much happier they could have been if they spent a week in Hawaii and came back refreshed and ready to live their lives.
But that wasn’t meant to be, and now they’re done.
As much as I loved this couple from the start, I’m not the least bit broken up over their breakup. Their relationship had grown oppressive and depressing to watch.
What I’m not sure about is Darlene finding God.
Darlene has always been an atheist, and I’ve respected that. That she needs to work on herself, be open with others, and not see the world through such a dark lens is an intriguing storyline, so when Louise encouraged her to see some sort of spiritual advisor, that seemed like good advice.
Darlene: Alright. I’ll give it a shot. I can’t feel any worse than I do…
Jackie: Oh, no, no, no, you can feel way worse. Sometimes you think this is the bottom, but this is just a trap door to the next layer of hell.
I just don’t love the idea that it has Darlene doing a 180 about everything she’s believed or hasn’t believed since she was a teenager. However, I’m curious to see where they go with this, so I’m on board for the time being.
I’m certain there are many fans who may disagree with me, but I hope this story doesn’t lean too heavy to the religious side because that doesn’t seem authentic to who Darlene has always been.
Elsewhere, Dan couldn’t wrap his mind around Louise wanted a real wedding with family and friends and a pretty cake.
I have a big family and lots of friends. The only difference is I don’t live with them all.
Dan knew Roseanne so well because they’d known one another since they were teenagers. Louise is right. Dan needs to learn to listen when she says something because this is new territory for both of them.
And I love that Louise speaks her mind in a way that generally gets her point across but doesn’t put other people down.
What I am excited about is seeing this wedding with all of the Conners. I’m sure it won’t go smoothly, but it should be a lot of fun.
Becky was supposedly off at a rehab retreat, and Neville wasn’t around, but I’m sure we’ll see them both in future episodes soon.
What I didn’t love was the live fan interaction.
I get it. It’s fun to have a sweepstakes that gets fans involved, but it’s really only cool if you’re one of the fans who ends up on TV.
All of the fans on the video chats did fine with their small parts. If anything, those parts felt almost too small, and in the end, they were nothing more than momentary filler.
On a side note, the actor who plays Mark had a heck of a growth spurt over the summer, and did he change his hair color, or am I imagining things?
And it was fun to see the real set of The Conners as they sent Darlene running off through the studio to find Ben on the set of the backroom of the hardware store.
Also, kudos to that fully vaccinated, mask-wearing audience. I wish I could have been one of you.
So, TV Fanatics, what did you think of the LIVE event?
Did the fan interaction work for you?
Are you relieved that Ben and Darlene broke up or disappointed?
And what do you think about Darlene starting a spiritual journey?
Check back in for our review of The Connors Season 4 Episode 2, and until then, you can watch The Conners online here at TV Fanatic.
C. Orlando is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow her on Twitter.