Trans Actress Alexandra Billings Joins ABC’s ‘The Connors’

Alexandra Billings joins ‘The Connors’ (photo: ABC)

Trans actress Alexandra Billings (Transparent) has been announced to join the cast of ABC’s The Connors for a multi-episode arc in the current season.

Billings will play Robin, a transgender woman who works as a supervisor at Wellman Plastics where Darlene (Sara Gilbert) and Becky (Lecy Goranson) are employed.

Fans of the original Roseanne will remember Wellman Plastics was where both Roseanne (Roseanne Barr) and sister Jackie (Laurie Metcalf) worked in the early days of the series. It was at Wellman Plastics that Jackie had a romantic relationship with her supervisor played by George Clooney.

Alexandra Billings (r) with the cast of The Connors

According to Deadline, Robin – described as no-nonsense but fair – becomes a friend and mentor to Darlene. The official synopsis reveals Darlene’s friendship with Robin “lands [Darlene] in an awkward situation between the boss and her sister, Becky.”

Billings is best known for starring as Davina in the acclaimed Amazon series Transparent. She’s also had recurring roles on Never Have I Ever, Goliath, and Diary of a Female President. On Broadway, the veteran actress appeared in the mega-hit musical Wicked as ‘Madame Morrible.’

Billings will make her debut in the November 25 episode.

The Conners recently made its Season 3 premiere drawing 4.8 million viewers.

The sitcom, which has continued without Roseanne Barr following an ugly racist incident, chronicles the daily struggles of the Connor family – Dan, Jackie, Darlene, Becky and D.J. – as they face financial pressures, parenthood, dating, and life as working-class Americans.

 

‘The Connors’ Premieres (Sans Roseanne) To Strong Ratings

Last night saw the highly-anticipated premiere of the Roseanne spin-off, The Connors, on ABC.

Roseanne Barr’s rebooted sitcom was cancelled earlier this year after the comedian tweeted racist messages about former Obama administration adviser Valerie Jarrett.

Barr eventually agreed to step away from the show and characters she helped create so dozens of jobs associated with the sitcom could be saved.

And so, we have The Connors.

(Warning – Spoiler alert)

As previously reported, Roseanne’s character was killed off in the debut episode via an opioid overdose. Longtime fans of Roseanne have seen the show tackle several controversial issues, like the current opioid epidemic, over the years.

The issue was treated with the seriousness and gravity that it deserves.

The episode opened three weeks after the passing of Roseanne’s character and the family members are still pretty much in shock. Especially husband, Dan, played by John Goodman.

When the cause of death is revealed, Dan remains in denial saying he knew he’d flushed Roseanne’s prescription pain killers.

But a pill bottle belonging to a neighbor (played by Mary Steenburgen) is soon found in a coat pocket. It seems the uninsured neighbors traded prescriptions occasionally to help each other out.

Dan initially blames and shames her for giving the pills to Roseanne, but soon even more hidden stashes of pills are found.

“She was going to do what she was going to do,” admits Dan in a line that easily could have been directly about Roseanne Barr herself. “She never listened to a damn person in her life.”

This being network sitcom-land, the family comes to a landing of sorts by the end of the half-hour, but not before the always dependable Laurie Metcalf delivers the “moment” of episode. Her affecting, layered, measured performance is definitely worth the watching.

For her part, Barr, who earlier had told the world she would move to Israel rather than stay in the U.S. for the premiere, tweeted in classic Roseanne fashion, “I AIN’T DEAD, BITCHES!!!!”

Later in the evening, in a lengthy statement issued through her longtime friend Rabbi Shmuley Boteach on Facebook, Barr called the decision to kill off her character with opioids in “The Conners” debut episode “grim and morbid.”

“While we wish the very best for the cast and production crew of The Conners, all of whom are deeply dedicated to their craft and were Roseanne’s cherished colleagues, we regret that ABC chose to cancel Roseanne by killing off the Roseanne Conner character,” the statement read in part. “That it was done through an opioid overdose lent an unnecessary grim and morbid dimension to an otherwise happy family show.”

According to CNN, the premiere of The Connors drew about 10.5 million viewers, which is on par with the last four episodes of Roseanne last season.

Writing for Vanity Fair, television critic Sonia Saraiya praised the evolution of the show and its characters.

The Conners felt richer, after one episode, than the revived Roseanne season did after nine. Barr’s personality took up a lot of space on the Roseanne set. Without her, the cast and the characters have a chance to breathe. And the result is an unlikely, appealing family sitcom with a motley crew of characters all held together by the same loss.

In advance of the premiere, the producers of The Connors released this featurette yesterday.

What do you think, readers? Do you plan on watching The Connors?

Roseanne Doesn’t Want To “Go Dark” On Upcoming ‘The Connors’

Roseanne Barr (image via Twitter)

During a conversation with Rabbi Shmuley Boteach for the conservative “Promised Land” podcast, Roseanne Barr revealed she’s planning to leave the United States for Israel before the premiere of the ABC spinoff sitcom, The Connors.

Shmuley didn’t shy away from the upcoming premiere set for October 16 on ABC.

The New York Daily News reports the Rabbi asked point-blank if she planned to watch the “revised version” of her now departed sitcom.

“I have an opportunity to go to Israel for a few months and study with my favorite teachers over there,” Barr told Shmuley, a longtime friend. “And that’s where I’m going to go and probably move somewhere there and study with my favorite teachers.”

“You know, I have saved a few pennies and I’m so lucky that I can go,” she added. “It’s my great, great joy and privilege to be a Jewish woman.”

The comedy star also shared that staying in the U.S. for the premiere and seeing the media’s response could “tempt” her to make a controversial comment about the spinoff, especially if she “has too many drinks.”

Barr did offer this comment regarding The Connors: “I’m not going to curse it or bless it. I’m staying neutral. That’s what I do. I’m staying away from it. (I’m not) wishing bad on anyone, and I don’t wish good for my enemies, you know. I don’t. I can’t. I just stay neutral.”

Barr also admitted to “some mental health issues of depression and stuff,” during the chat. Alluding to personal demons, she explained, “I got to stay in the middle or I’ll go dark, and I don’t want to go dark again.”

In a recent tweet, Barr told fans that she’s “got new Dr.’s and am doing better now.”

The reboot of Barr’s hit sitcom, Roseanne, was summarily cancelled after one season in the aftermath of racist tweets by the 65-year-old comedienne about former White House advisor Valerie Jarrett. In the tweets, which Roseanne later blamed on “Ambien-tweeting,” she compared Jarrett to an ape.

She denied any racist overtones claiming, “I thought the b—h was white.”

Barr also made disparaging comments about former First Daughter Chelsea Clinton and Democratic supporter, George Soros.

ABC decided to revamp the reboot one more time, this time without Barr. In order for the project to move forward, however, Barr was required to sign away any rights to future royalties of the new show.

In an interview last week, actor John Goodman shared that Barr’s character will be killed off in the new spinoff.

First Tease Of ‘Roseanne’ Reboot Reboot – ‘The Connors’

Fans of the now-defunct sitcom Roseanne get their first tease of the reboot of the rebooted series, The Connors.

Fans of the now-defunct sitcom Roseanne get their first tease of the reboot of the rebooted series, The Connors.

The official synopsis reads:

“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. This iconic family — Dan, Jackie, Darlene, Becky and D.J. — grapples with parenthood, dating, an unexpected pregnancy, financial pressures, aging and in-laws in working-class America. Through it all, the fights, the coupon cutting, the hand-me-downs, the breakdowns — with love, humor and perseverance, the family prevails.”

Television patriarch John Goodman spilled the beans this week in an interview with The Times that Roseanne’s character will definitely be killed off, saying, “I guess he’ll be mopey and sad because his wife’s dead.”

Goodman also commented on Roseanne’s now-infamous tweet that got her kicked to the curb by ABC that compared former White House advisor, Valerie Jarrett, to an ape.

“I know, I know for a fact she’s not racist,” Goodman told The Times.

In any case, after Roseanne was forced to sign away any future royalties for the upcoming The Connors, the new reboot is set to premiere October 16 at 8pm on ABC.