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Television

Rehab for Roseanne? Here are five ways Roseanne Barr could be excised from the upcoming spinoff

ROSEANNE-CREW
ABC is looking to give “The Conners,” an upcoming spinoff, a fresh start without Roseanne Barr.
(Adam Rose / ABC)

Now that ABC has finalized its plans to reboot “Roseanne” without its titular character, a singular question remains: How do you solve a problem like Roseanne Barr?

The decision to move forward with “The Conners,” a spinoff that ABC announced on Thursday, comes after the network’s decision to cancel the highly rated “Roseanne” revival in the aftermath of a racist tweet from the show’s star.

Thursday’s announcement explained that “after a sudden turn of events, the Conners are forced to face the daily struggles of life in Lanford in a way they never have before.”

So what exactly is that “sudden turn of events” that strips Roseanne from the show? Here are five ideas for ABC’s consideration:

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She’s dead.

The most obvious – and most likely? – choice is simply to kill off the character.

It wouldn’t be much of a stretch, given that the original series (sort of) killed off Dan Conner in the final season. But more important, it would go a long way in recapturing one of the strengths of the show: the realistic depiction of lower middle class life.

A 2016 MIT study on mortality suggested that income inequality led to as much as a 10- to 15-year gap in lifespan between the richest of the rich and the poorest of the poor.

The death of Roseanne Conner — at age 65, in questionable health and about to undergo knee surgery — would be sad, yes, but by no means unprecedented.

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She’s in rehab.

That being said, it’s unclear what kind of deal with the (metaphorical) devil the network and executive producer Tom Werner struck to create “The Conners” without Barr’s creative or financial involvement.

Perhaps they negotiated to write Roseanne out of the show but not kill the character off, leaving the door open for whatever the future might hold.

In that case, the Season 10 development that Roseanne had become dependent on opioids due to ongoing medical issues offers a perfect way to usher the character out of sight (and out of mind) while she gets help for her issues.

She’s in prison.

I mean, the opioid crisis is no joke and it’s not much of a stretch to imagine Roseanne Conner going full Walter White while offscreen and ending up convicted of multiple drug-related felonies.

Which, coincidentally, gives us an idea for the next season of Netflix’s “Orange Is the New Black.”

5
Roseanne Conner joins the inmates of “Orange Is the New Black”? Why not?
(Cara Howe / Netflix )

She was dead all along.

It turns out that Roseanne Conner was actually killed in a car accident in the Season 1 finale of “Roseanne,” after heroically leading a walkout at Wellman Plastics, and the rest of her adventures were simply imagined by Dan in a series of bestselling novels about his dead wife, a domestic goddess.

What? It could happen.

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Everyone realizes she’s not a very nice person and collectively cuts her out of their lives.

Probably the least dramatic option, but there’s something to be said for realism at the end of the day.

libby.hill@latimes.com

@midwestspitfire


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