The Conners will join a growing number of shows to touch on the coronavirus pandemic this season. ABC released the first poster of the cast together for the new season, showing John Goodman, Sara Gilbert, Michael Fishman, Laurie Metcalf, and Lecy Goranson all wearing face masks with patterns recalling the famous Conners couch. ABC has not yet scheduled The Conners' return.
The poster was unveiled during Thursday's Good Morning America, during which Gilbert said the show will "reflect" the pandemic. "I think people ... they want to see some version of what's happening in the world or in their lives," Gilbert, who stars as Darlene, said. "I think it would be strange to just be sitting at a restaurant with a group of people in a scene when that's not what's happening in the world."
The show will walk a tightrope as it tries to balance tackling the subject while also not leaning too far into it. "There are storylines that touch on it. It affects each of our lives, in terms of our livelihood, the way it's affecting many people," the former The Talk co-host explained. She said there will be "a lot of storylines" that are not directly related to the pandemic. "You see masks and you see things like that, but it's not always front and center of every storyline," Gilbert said.
The Conners was among the first shows to resume production this summer. Gilbert said it was "wild" to be back with her co-stars. The producers also took "pretty extensive" safety measures, making sue the cast and crew were regularly tested for COVID-19, wore face masks, and practiced social distancing. "I think no decision is being taken lightly right now," Gilbert explained. "I think everybody, no matter who we are, are sort of weighing out what we can do and can't do, and what feels safe."
The new season was also filmed without a live studio audience. Executive producer Bruce Helford previously said the coronavirus would be "woven" into Season 3. "We're a show that reflects reality, so we're obligated [to address it]. I would think somebody in the family would be taking the jobs no one else wants, [like] working in grocery stores," he previously told TVLine. "They'd be taking jobs that put them at risk because they need the money, like most of blue-collar America."
On Thursday, ABC also unveiled its short-term fall schedule, which did not include any scripted shows. Instead, the network is only planning on reality and game shows to be ready for September and early October. The premieres for The Conners, black-ish, The Good Doctor, Grey's Anatomy, Station 19, and more were not announced. The Conners is expected to air on Wednesdays when the Roseanne spinoff does return later this fall.