A chicken coop created tension between Jackie and Dan on this week’s The Conners, but that’s nothing new for the long-time adversaries. Initially thrown for a loop by the death of Roseanne, Jackie (Laurie Metcalf) has gotten her act together – at least as much as Jackie is able to get her act together – and become a constant presence at the Conner house. Dan (John Goodman) meanwhile has settled back into his traditional role as the ever-flustered dad after suffering his own momentary lapse into depression, a blue spell he chased off by finally fixing up his motorcycle and taking it for a therapeutic ride.
Looking to do something fun with the kids, Jackie this week revealed her plans to build a chicken coop in the Conner backyard. Of course, nobody told Dan he would not only have to build it but also live in the presence of chickens. After initially resisting the idea, Dan broke down thanks to some of Mark’s (Ames McNamara) powerful mind-games. As always, Dan showed that behind his gruff exterior he's a big softy when it comes to his kids and grandkids.
But of course complications quickly ensued. The neighborhood cats descended on the chicken coop, and Dan was forced to stay up all night fending them off with a broom. To make matters worse, Mary’s (Jayden Rey) chicken Corn Flake got PTSD as a result of the cat attacks and required a trip to the vet. Jackie explained that Corn Flake needed tranquilizers and would have to stay in the house for the time being, but after Dan heard this he put his foot down and refused to have a chicken inside. Jackie mocked Dan for thinking he was too good to have a chicken in his house, a response that made Dan even more befuddled.
This being The Conners, a show that’s all about finding the perfect point of compromise between characters who seem hopelessly embroiled in conflict, Dan and Jackie eventually worked out their differences. Dan surrendered on keeping the chicken coop, while Jackie packed up the traumatized Corn Flake to take to a chicken rescue. The two then discussed the larger issue underlying the chicken coop drama: the fact that Dan never liked Jackie and only put up with her for the sake of Roseanne (Roseanne Barr). In a hilarious exchange highlighting the talents of Laurie Metcalf and John Goodman, Jackie admitted that the chicken coop was just an excuse to keep coming over.
Dan expressed astonishment that Jackie would think making him a chicken farmer was a good idea (Jackie’s plans of course are seldom anything but harebrained). He then laid out their relationship in clear terms: when she would come over, he would always give her a hard time, and since that worked for 40 years, why change it now? Jackie then asked Dan why no one ever calls her to invite her over and he replied that she doesn’t need an invite because she’s always there anyway (a sly wink to viewers who might be wondering if Jackie has any life of her own at this point).
A tearful Jackie then forced Dan into an admission by asking “So if I stopped coming over you’d miss me?” Dan’s sarcastic response brought more tears to Jackie’s eyes, because it so perfectly reaffirmed the status quo. “Our little game continues,” Jackie exclaimed. The continuing adversarial relationship between Jackie and Dan is one of the happiest hold-overs from the canceled Roseanne, when the two characters were always at each other’s throats. Now of course, Roseanne is no longer around to mediate between the two of them. The way The Conners has reinforced the dynamic between the characters, while still letting them express affection in their reluctant way, allows them to grow while still keeping them fundamentally in the same place. Neither of them is going anywhere so they might as well learn to live with each other: that’s always been the true nature of their game.
The Conners continues on ABC next Tuesday.