While Darlene and Ben might finally be together in The Conners season 5, episode 12 proves that the Roseanne spinoff is still wasting the couple’s chemistry. It is always tricky for a sitcom with an ensemble cast to avoid wasting some of its performers. After all, a brief twenty-minute runtime is not enough screen time to give every supporting star a chance to shine in every episode, and focusing on one character for a multi-episode arc can often mean that another character is ignored for multiple outings in a row.
For example, The Conners season 5 used Jackie’s darkest subplot to set up one of her most ironically funny punchlines, but the show needed to ignore Darlene’s son Mark for a few episodes to focus on this storyline. Similarly, Darlene’s daughter Harris didn’t play much of a role in The Conners season 5’s Christmas episode, but this gave the Roseanne spinoff time to flesh out Louise and Dan’s relationship. These trade-offs are inevitable and ideally would level off by the end of each season but, in the case of Darlene and Ben’s relationship, this issue has become a bigger problem for The Conners season 5.
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Ben and Darlene’s Season 5 Story Started Well
It took Ben and Darlene long enough to get together but, while they’ve always been a bit spiky as individual characters, their marriage already seems bitter and divided midway through The Conners season 5. Since Roseanne’s memory dominated episode 11’s story, there was not much room for Darlene and Ben, but The Conners returned its focus to the pair in The Conners season 5, episode 12, “Stuck in the Middle and Stuck in the Past.” While it was nice to see Becky put her work as a Psychology student to good use by counseling the pair, it is worrying that Darlene and Ben are already so at odds when their marriage has just begun.
Ben and Darlene’s season 5 story started strong with an episode about them sharing an awkward double honeymoon with Neville and Jackie. That plot, as well as Ben secretly helping Mark pass his driving test behind Darlene’s back, showed the couple navigating the difficult terrain of working together as a unit since their nuptials. However, after The Conners season 5’s controversial Christmas episode took a break from the duo to focus on Dan and Louise, Ben and Darlene spent most of “Stuck in the Middle and Stuck in the Past” at each other’s throats. For a couple who worked so hard for their happy ending, the pair seemed more at odds than ever.
The Conners Needs To Focus On Ben and Darlene Again
For much of The Conners season 5, Ben and Darlene have been background characters. However, when they get a solid story, their chemistry is still as solid as ever. While Jackie struggling with her mother’s dementia diagnosis occupied a lot of season 5’s screen time (to the extent that two major Roseanne character deaths took place offscreen), there is now room for The Conners to center some storylines around Ben and Darlene again. This could be good for the couple, who had a promising future ahead of them when the Roseanne spinoff’s fifth season started but have since become the most toxic pairings in The Conners.