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Television

Sara Gilbert dissects ‘The Conners’: ‘If there’s no conflict, it’s not funny’

Sara Gilbert talks about finding the humor in tragedy in ‘The Conners.’
Television Critic

Sara Gilbert has spent most of her life on TV. She landed the role of surly teen Darlene on the long-running sitcom “Roseanne” at age 13, and cracked sarcastic jokes on the ABC series for the next nine years. At 44, she now plays surly adult Darlene on the show’s spinoff, “The Conners.” In between, Gilbert created and co-hosted “The Talk,” had a recurring role on “The Big Bang Theory” and was a key player in bringing “Roseanne” back last year.

Now headed into its second season, ABC’s “The Conners,” which is executive produced by Gilbert, follows Lanford’s favorite dysfunctional family as they grapple with the death of their matriarch, single parenthood and all the challenges that come with being a blue-collar family in 21st century America.

Portraying the problems of regular folks is in Gilbert’s blood. Her grandfather, Harry Crane, created “The Honeymooners” and her half-sister Melissa Gilbert starred in “Little House on the Prairie.”

Gilbert stopped by the Los Angeles Times studios to talk about her childhood on camera and her career trajectory. She also spoke about the challenges she faced after “Roseanne” was canceled due to the Twitter controversy surrounding the show’s namesake, and what it’s taken to make “The Conners” a success.

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It’s all about “meaningful, impactful stories, and conflict. If there’s no conflict, it’s not funny,” she said. “When tragedy happens, we try and find a way to view the humor in it. Something the [show’s] writers have taught me is that anything can be funny … I think of the darkest storylines I can think of and say, ‘What do you [writers] think of this?’ And then it’s like ‘good luck’! They are brilliantly talented at making everyone laugh.”

lorraine.ali@latimes.com

@lorraineali

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