Sitcom Scorecard: January 25-28, 2021 - Are The Conners Rating Suffering From Bad Writing Similar to Older Roseanne Seasons?

January often presents a mild spike in ratings.  The first half of the week for sitcoms experienced this while the remainder experienced an ice storm leaving their vehicles hitting the skids.  And how did they play out this week?

Monday, January 25: The warmth of winter fire ignited CBS series highs as The Neighborhood (1.00) gained a full two-tenths, and Bob Hearts Abishola (0.77) gained 0.11.

Thursday, January 26: Scheduling 101 for networks suggests placing compatible series next to each other.  After Anthony Anderson's modestly successful To Tell The Truth, Blackish (0.64) dug itself out of its Wednesday grave and not only regained 0.22, but also rated as ABC's strongest comedy of the week for the first time in its history.  And in a pleasant accent, Mixedish (0.59) debuted as ABC's second strongest comedy of the week.

Wednesday, January 27: Does anyone remember when ABC comedies ruled the roost from 2014-19?  Those days are long over as all registered new series.  The Goldbergs (0.57) shed 0.12, American Housewife (0.45) shed 0.11, freefalling The Conners (0.56) dropped 0.05 from its last post-election episode, and Call Your Mother (0.38) appears to be losing its signal as it shed 0.04 on the Nielsen bandwidth.

Thursday, January 28: How does a network bury a failing sitcom?  Send its stronger 3 entries out of town for the evening and leave the weakest to show its true weight.  Extinction appears to be coming for The Unicorn (0.35) as it lost 0.06 and lowered the bar as the lowest-rated original CBS sitcom.

Over at NBC, Mr. Mayor (0.56) regained 0.05 while ailing Superstore (0.40) lost 0.01.  FOX' lineup also pulled a 0.01 whisker from its weak comedies with Call Me Kat (0.55) dropping further down the ranks, and Last Man Standing (0.43) continues to become a shell of its former glory.

ABC sitcoms are experiencing several freefalls, none more alarming than The Conners.  Last season's 1st Place champion now rests in 8th place among the 22 entries.  Of course, two FOX interlopers are lurking above ready to deflate after the Superbowl, but nothing is to blame for The Conners' fumble besides the schedule move to Wednesdays coupled with the lackluster writing.  What is saddening is this series has the cast, pedigree and premise to succeed.  Where The Conners misfires is the writing has weakened, much like parent series Roseanne did in its 7th season onward.  Later in the original's run, Roseanne Barr strangled creative control of the series demanding plotting and tone changes in the series.  This coupled with her real-life health issues with her pregnancy left the 7th season losing helium.  To state in plain English, both series' ratings turn to shit when the writing does the same.

Like The Conners' current season, the 7th season's writing was incongruent, jerky and failed to balance the laughter against heavier plotting.  The Conners began with a grave, bleak premiere with the family facing foreclosure/eviction within 5 days.  Gripping and compelling, the plot point was dropped in the following episode leaving no mention of the troubles.  Earlier seasons of Roseanne offset life's bleak developments with hearty humor and making an adventure out of ruin.  Another noticeable habit The Conners appears to be picking up like its parent is rewriting history later in its run.  A glaring example was Dan referring to his 3 children, when fans of the original know a 4th child was born in the run.  Just because Jerry Conner has yet to make an appearance is no excuse for this oversight as he has been mentioned several times.  These inconsistencies may result in longtime viewers as well as new ones taking their interest away from the continuation series.

If The Conners would learn to balance upbeat humor vs. the characters griping and complaining of poverty, it may recapture fans growing tired.  A move back to Tuesdays appears to be off the table as they struck a mild windfall last week, so stay tuned and watch the ratings.  The Conners' renewal may not be as clear cut as imagined due to being outsourced and no longer powering strong ratings.  For now, it remains a likely renewal unless the freefall continues.

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