Between Geena (Maya Lynne Robinson), DJ’s wife, and Darlene, the show still features wise women with acerbic wit and zero tolerance for idiocy. Yes, in some ways, Roseanne will never be replaced. But in other ways, she already has been.
The show works fine without her [Roseanne]. ... The Conners still wants to be a sitcom for both Democrats and Republicans, but instead of making hay of culture war flashpoints, it stays focused on the Conners’ bleakly circumscribed reality--and the foreshortening of opportunity that applies to the have-nots of both political tribes.
In what’s been a woefully bland fall TV season, especially for network comedy, it’s frankly a delight to watch a sitcom this solid, with a cast of people you love this much, all executing so well, and, we hope at some point, not have to couch their praise in caveats about the Roseanne of it all.
The result is a very interesting little sitcom, where what’s happening backstage reflects what’s happening on camera. It’s mostly about loss; for Dan, Darlene, and Jackie, it’s become about the redefinition of their roles in the Conner family. The setting snaps so familiarly into place that it’s like a time capsule.
It was unsettling and raw and fitfully funny. But it also felt more like “Roseanne” than last spring’s revival did. ... [Darlene's] dry, Gen X humor could give The Conners a distinct voice from Barr’s gleeful bullhorn. There’s still plenty to do with the underdeveloped family branch of D.J. (Michael Fishman), his soldier wife, Geena (Maya Lynne Robinson), and their daughter, Mary (Jayden Rey).
None of them has ever carried a series before, and as good as they were in The Conners debut, the glue that held the show together was the unseen ghost of Roseanne, as aggravating and amusing as ever, invisible but never absent. I'll believe she's replaceable when I see it.