The Conners Season 5’s “Dark” Jackie Story Could Work

While The Conners season 5 threatened to make things worse for Aunt Jackie, there is a way for the sitcom spinoff to pull this off without becoming too bleak or grim. Jackie never had an easy time of it in Roseanne or The Conners. Even before The Conners tragically killed off Roseanne, her sister had been through countless failed jobs and relationships, at least one abusive partnership, and innumerable smaller, sillier problems.

As such, it was somewhat foreboding when an interview with The Conners showrunners after the season 4 finale promised a “darker story” for Jackie. At the time, this seemed like unnecessary pessimism, since Aunt Jackie had just gotten married and finally seemed happy and stable for the first time in a long time. However, since then Jackie has gotten better at standing up for herself so, if this dark storyline refers to the death of her mother Bev, the plot could give her character closure and catharsis. The Conners killing Bev would be devastating but it would also allow Jackie to let go of one of the few things that are still holding her back.

Why Jackie’s Dark Season 5 Story Sounded Bad

Jackie has been through a lot throughout Roseanne and The Conners, so the news that season 5 would bring a darker story for her was hardly welcome at first glance. Jackie is the family punching bag and has been since Roseanne, so the prospect of seeing Laurie Metcalf’s character struggling even when she had finally ended up in a happy, stable relationship didn’t sound like fun sitcom viewing. While the trials and tribulations faced by other Conners heroines like Harris and Becky are easier to laugh off because the pair are more self-assured and confident, Jackie wears her insecurities on her sleeve and is often mocked and taken advantage of as a result.

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Jackie’s Season 5 Arc Could Be Great

Conners Roseanne Jackie Beverly Rose

In a recent CinemaBlend interview, The Conners show runners promised “some dramatic developments in the life between Jackie and Bev.” Combine this news with the fact that Jackie has been mentioning her terrible relationship with her mother a lot lately and the most likely plot line of The Conners season 5 becomes obvious. If the aforementioned “darker story” is Bev dying, this could allow Jackie to reconcile with the mother who put her through the wringer without taking away the marriage, stable job, and happy life that Jackie has spent years earning.

While The Conners season 5 changed Darlene and Harris’s dynamic too, Jackie is the character who has undergone the most notable transformation in season 5. Once neurotic and unable to voice her needs, Jackie has been able to stand up to Darlene’s mockery and demand an apology from her niece while also voicing her feelings to Neville and trusting him to understand her. Even when Jackie has failed to explain her feelings until it’s too late (see her explosive blowup at Louise in The Conners season 5, episode 7, “Take This Job and Shove It Twice”), she has subsequently taken responsibility for these outbursts and explained their cause.

How Season 4 Set Up Jackie And Bev’s Story

Katey Sagal as Louise and as Laurie Metcalf as Jackie in The Conners

Since Jackie has started taking responsibility for her feelings and demanding that the Conners treat her better, now is the perfect time to bring back her mother Bev. Since when The Conners was Roseanne, the withholding, mocking, callous Bev was the character Jackie struggled with most. While Roseanne and Jackie had their differences like all sisters, they also had a deep bond and affinity for each other. In contrast, Bev was never kind to Jackie and did feel closer to Roseanne, resulting in Jackie feeling isolated and left out by her family from adolescence into adulthood (and even through the events of The Conners).

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It is notable that Jackie’s biggest freak-outs in The Conners season 5, from her anger at Louise to her argument with Darlene, were rooted in fights she had with Bev. Without Jackie finding the supportive, loving Neville in season 4, she would never have been able to cope with Bev’s potential death. Jackie needed to be in a better place before she could have faced her mother’s death without collapsing completely, meaning The Conners season 5 can address this brutal reality without Jackie undoing years of work when reunited with her distant, imperfect mother. If the series had piled this challenge on any earlier, the trauma would have buried Aunt Jackie but, in The Conners season 5, this dark story could relieve the heroine of a heavy burden.

Episodes of The Conners air Wednesdays on ABC.

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