“The Conners are self-deprecating and it’s one of the ways that they get through their daily struggles, but we see them as having a tremendous amount of dignity,” “The Conners” co-developer Dave Caplan told an audience of Emmy voters and their guests at the annual ABC FYC Day (watch the video above). “The working class is the nobility of the country; they’re the ones who truly make sacrifices,” showrunner Bruce Helford asserted. Sharing the stage also with stars Michael Fishman, Sara Gilbert and Lecy Goranson, Helford prefaced, “Almost all of us — the writing staff and most of the cast — come from a working-class background. I grew up in Chicago and broke, my mom would put me on the phone with the bill collectors and say, ‘No, please, my mom’s not here; don’t turn off the lights’.”
The first half-hour panel of the six-hour event, the “Roseanne” spin-off filled all 419 seats of the Main Theater on the Walt Disney Studio Lot in Burbank, California, forcing a standby line of eager and tardy academy members. Helford continued, “Arguably, there is only one or maybe two other shows on television that really address true working-class issues. It hasn’t been and it’s just not out there very much, so we feel we have a job to do.” Fishman echoed this sentiment, “People really respond to our resilience as a family and the way that we use humor to deal with all these hard issues. That’s the beauty of this show and it’s what allows us to tackle such big issues.”
Fishman turned to his on-screen sister toward the end of the panel, “Sara brings such heart to Darlene. She’s found a way to navigate the touching, heartbreaking reality that life isn’t always what we think it’s going to be when we grow up.” Having earned Best Comedy Supporting Actress nominations for her role at the 1993 and 1994 Emmys, Gilbert is moving up to the Best Comedy Actress race this year for the first time. This separates her from incumbent nominee Laurie Metcalf, who has already earned a Critics’ Choice Award nomination for “The Conners” as Best Comedy Supporting Actress and for the same role on “Roseanne” at the Emmys last year. Emmy voters recently received all 11 episodes of the debut season on a single DVD, which noted the series premiere episode as their Best Comedy Writing submission.
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