The Conners has reportedly promoted Jay R. Ferguson to a series regular for the show's upcoming Season 3. Ferguson joined the Roseanne spinoff to play Ben, the new love interest for Darlene, and from the sound of it he is here to stay. The news was confirmed in a report by TVLine.
Ferguson was a major player in The Conners Season 2, and fans have speculated ever since that he might move up to the main cast. Executive producer Bruce Helford told TV Line that Ferguson's real-life friendship with Sara Gilbert (Darlene) helped as well. "Jay and Sara have a long history," Helford said. "They were buddies since they were teenagers. And their chemistry is so freakin' good. We didn’t know [the Darlene/Ben romance] was going to be long-term."
"We actually had plans at one point for her to be thinking about somebody else and kind of blowing this relationship up," he went on. "But as we watched them we [realized] you can’t get much better than the way they act with each other because they’re two alphas going at it. And there’s a genuine affection between them in real-life."
"We have a lot of regulars, but certainly I think it's likely Jay is going to be around for a long time," Helford concluded.
Ben and Darlene's burgeoning romance was a centerpiece of The Conners Season 2, as the couple mulled over plans to get their own place and move out of the long-standing set of the Conners' house. In the end, they decided to stay not just for themselves, but to help Darlene's father, Dan Conner (John Goodman) who was struggling financially.
This is the show's attempt to imitate the real economic strife in the U.S., as it has often done in the past. With the coronavirus pandemic now raging, the storyline is likely to hit home harder than ever.
Unlike many other shows, The Conners has returned to production despite the need for coronavirus safety measures, according to a report by Deadline. Starting last month, the cast and crew reunited under strict conditions — likely the first American TV show to set foot on set since March. There is little doubt that the pandemic will play a role in the new season.
The Conners Season 3 will consist of 19 episodes in total. The series is a strong performer for ABC, replacing the Roseanne reboot that exceeded all ratings expectations, but caused a storm of controversy around the eponymous star herself. In the spin-off series, Roseanne Conner passed away, leaving a grieving family to sort out their new life without her.
The Conners Season 3 premieres on Wednesday, Oct. 21 at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.