I had the pleasure of attending a virtual interview with Sara Gilbert (Darlene) and Ames McNamara (Mark) about the new episode of The Conners airing tonight on ABC at 9:00-9:30 p.m. ET.
In “Cheating, Revelations and A Box of Doll Heads,” Mark is stressed and exhausted from studying for an important entrance exam so Darlene steps in to help, but her plan backfires.
Since this episode centers around virtual school and the difficulties that both Mark and Darlene deal with, we wondered what Sara and Ames were dealing with in real life, Ames with virtual schooling, and Sara with her own children’s schooling. Ames explained that since he has dealt with virtual schooling a lot he can definitely relate to Mark’s struggles. As for Sara, just like most of us, she is mostly attending meetings online and limits her children’s screentime as much as she can.
This episode is not only about virtual learning, but it also shines a light on how virtual learning can really put stress on not only the child but on everyone in the family. Darlene sees this happening to Mark and you can feel her helplessness as she tries to help him. Ames also went on to explain that this episode also shines a light on the inequities in our country. “I think we’ve all seen how people with fewer means already were struggling, it put a spotlight on that and it furthered those struggles, so it almost widened the divide between people who have more and people who have less. If they didn’t have tablets or computers, or Wi-Fi access, their kids would be falling further behind.”
Sara added, “I love that we get to address the fact that this is obviously a fictional group that represents a lot of people who are very kind, smart, intelligent, funny, good people that cannot break the cycle of poverty, and cannot break through the levels of how unfair things can be in this country.”
As for learning on-set, one of the coolest bits of information that we were told, was that Ames has the same teacher as Sara did when she was on Roseanne. Sara said that Ames was an exceptional student who loves to learn and is very excited about getting to his classes unlike her and Lecy Goranson (Becky) who liked to hide, run and get food and do anything they could to get out of school.
This season has shown a lot of hardships and we wondered what was in store Mark and Darlene. Ames said that he thinks as Mark gets older, he may have more conflicts with Darlene and Harris, and he says that he is really looking forward to it because as he grows up Mark will as well, which will fun to play and interesting to see. On playing a young gay character, Ames explained that he loves the representation and how it lends to bringing up serious conversations with your kids.
“That’s one of the great parts about playing Mark is that you can see someone who’s coming to terms with himself and who he is, as he’s growing up and how his family has really been super supportive of him, and how they’re trying to navigate it, as well. I think that it’s something that’s really good to be shown on TV because it’s definitely a part of peoples’ lives who are out there, questioning who they are.”
As for what’s in store with Darlene, we will see her struggles with Ben, and how she repairs the damage she has caused. Sara added that Darlene has also been dealing with aging and the loss of some dreams…. “I think the kids growing up and getting closer to having their own lives that aren’t entangled with hers is going to bring up some of the feelings; if she’s not quite yet an empty nester, but she’s bridging into that territory, and I like to bring a lot of my life to the show.”
On a lighter note, the show is known for some awesome guest stars, most recently Candice Bergen and Brian Austin Green. They were both asked who they wanted to guest star, Ames went with Lin-Manual Miranda adding, “He’s someone who I think is a really amazingly creative person, and I love Hamilton. I think it would just be so amazing to meet him and maybe get a chance to talk to him and see how he works.” As for Sara’s dream guests, she mentions heavy hitters like Judi Dench and Octavia Spencer, wouldn’t that be amazing?!
ABOUT THE CONNERS
“The Conners” follows America’s favorite family as they continue to face the daily struggles of life in Lanford. Dan, Jackie, Darlene, Becky and D.J. will continue to grapple with parenthood, dating, financial pressures and aging in working-class America. Through it all – the fights, the coupon cutting, the hand-me-downs, the breakdowns – with love, humor and perseverance, the family prevails. The series stars John Goodman as Dan Conner, Laurie Metcalf as Jackie Harris, Sara Gilbert as Darlene Conner, Lecy Goranson as Becky Conner-Healy, Michael Fishman as D.J. Conner, Emma Kenney as Harris Conner-Healy, Ames McNamara as Mark Conner-Healy, Jayden Rey as Mary Conner and Jay R. Ferguson as Ben. “The Conners” is executive produced by Tom Werner, along with Sara Gilbert, Bruce Helford, Dave Caplan, Bruce Rasmussen and Tony Hernandez. The series is from Werner Entertainment.
About Sara Gilbert (Executive Producer; Darlene Conner on ABC’s “The Conners”)
Sara Gilbert endeared herself to millions of television viewers with her portrayal of the sarcastic yet loveable Darlene Conner on the long-running, hit series “Roseanne,” a role which garnered her two Emmy® nominations among numerous other accolades. Gilbert reprised her role as Darlene in the series revival in 2018, which premiered to record-breaking numbers, and she continues in her role as both Darlene and executive producer on ABC’s hit comedy “The Conners.”
Gilbert is the creator, executive producer, and former co-host of CBS’s award-winning talk show, “The Talk.” The show has won Daytime Emmy Awards for “Outstanding Talk Show / Entertainment” and “Outstanding Entertainment Talk Show Hosts.” Sara most recently made guest star appearances on “Atypical,” a show following an 18-year old autistic boy who decides its time to take hold of the reins of his life and turn it into something amazing; and the YouTube Premium series, “Weird City.” The series co-created by Academy and Emmy Award-winning writer Jordan Peele and Emmy Award winning writer Charlie Sanders, centers around life in the not-too-distant future city of Weird.
About Ames McNamara (Mark Conner-Healy on ABC’s “The Conners”)
Ames McNamara is a high-schooler from Hoboken, NJ. He has been acting in local musical theater since age 5 and professionally since age 8. He stars as Mark Conner-Healy on The Conners and also voices a lead role in a new animated show for pre-schoolers.
When he’s not acting, Ames likes to direct his friends in short movies, go on hikes with his family, read fantasy novels, and play tennis and soccer. He’s a huge Premier League and Formula 1 fan.
Besides continuing to act and direct, Ames hopes to work in environmental justice when he’s older, and ultimately to become president.
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