What to Watch: “The Conners” Lives On Without Roseanne

"T-Pain's School of Business," meanwhile, doesn't make the grade.

October 21, 2018 5:00 am

Welcome to What to Watch, a series where we tell you the best shows, movies and series out right now, both on networks and streaming services. This week we look at how a Roseanne-free “Roseanne” can go on without her, and other really questionable television shows starring T-Pain and Nathan Fillion. 

The Connors (ABC)

The main question, and the reason you’re probably reading this, is whether Roseanne’s own show, which ousted her after racist comments last May, is any good without her. Short answer: yes.

Reports from the renamed reboot, The Conners, talked of friction among the cast and crew, centered around Roseanne, whose domineering presence extended from set to the writers’ room. With Roseanne out of the picture, we get more time with other characters (which is a treat with Laurie Metcalf and Sara Gilbert). If you enjoyed the reboot, you’ll stick around to watch characters you got to know during the show’s original run.

The premiere tackles a whirlwind of issues including grief, coming out, addiction, health care, and teen sex. The show remains just as funny without its central anchor as characters flow in and out of the house. The only people who won’t transition from Roseanne to The Conners are those who only watched to support the real Roseanne when she dominated the news cycle for vocally supporting Trump. But her absence, and the noise that leaves with her, allows the show to return to the level of working-class, real-world Americans it became known for. 

T-Pain’s School of Business (Fuse)

Depending how old you were in the late aughts, you might have worn clear braces and straightened your hair until it was singed to a crisp (young), or you were appalled at the “secret meaning” in Britney Spear’s “If You Seek Amy” (old). No matter what side you fall on you, though, you definitely heard the first generation of iPhone ringing with T-Pain lyrics: “She made us drinks, to drink, we drank em, got drunk.” A glorious era of music, right? And now, like Snoop Dog and Will Smith, T-Pain is trying to make himself relevant again by doing something unexpected from a once-famous rapper.

T-Pain’s new show follows the “Buy You a Drank” rapper around as he blithely remarks on “disruptors” of industry, otherwise known as entrepreneurs who failed to appear on Shark Tank. T-Pain lets viewers know he was an entrepreneur himself as an early adapter of the vocalizer in the music industry (although he first got the idea to over-autotune his voice from a Jennifer Lopez song).

I stopped watching somewhere during T-Pain’s meeting with the first set of entrepreneurs, who are making a healthy instant ramen. Within five minutes of the ramen-making process he jokes about not using protection, snorting the flour, and whether the water used is actually vodka. Despite listing his early adoption of a vocoder in music as one reason he’s interested in other “disruptors,” he doesn’t seem that interested in his show.

Haunted (Netflix)

Last week Netflix released, The Haunting of Hill House, one of the best horror shows we’ve had in a long time. It’s a show I can only watch in daylight and preferably outside of my bedroom. If, like me, you need a palate cleanser after every episode to remind you that malicious dead people aren’t lurking right outside your door, Haunted– about real people recounting real life hauntings –will do the trick. The show features one of my favorite devices: live action reenactments. The unbelievable acting with poorly described voice overs hearkens back to shows like 1,001 Ways to Die and FBI: The Untold Stories. While the special effects have come a long way since those two shows and are put to good use in Haunted, it’s still too hard to take the new show seriously. These ghost stories won’t keep you up at night.

The Rookie (ABC)

The first time I heard of Nathan Fillion was on Big Mouth, and even then I didn’t think he was a real person. He seemed to be a stand-in character for the type of male actor who spends their career portraying white men simultaneously in positions of power and mid-to-late life crises. Apparently Fillion is real though, and he has real fans too. “Country Living” reports these “fans are losing it” over The Rookie. So if you love Nathan Fillion and want to watch The Rookie, I may not be watching with you, but you aren’t alone.

 Wanderlust (Netflix)

Toni Collette, the Golden Globe-winning actress who starred in one of the best horror movies of the decade (Hereditary), finally doesn’t have to play the mom worrying about everyone else’s problems. Now she’s a mom dealing with her own problems.

After struggling in her marriage, Joy Richards (Collette) and her husband (Steven Mackintosh) decide to go open and both start dating other people. It will have you asking yourself questions like “is the secret to saving my marriage having sex with someone else?” and “is Toni Colette British?” The answer to one of those questions is no (she’s Australian, which I also didn’t know). As for the other, maybe? There’s another Wanderlust starring Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd. It’s also about rekindling a relationship through outside sex. This show is much sadder than that movie.

My Dinner with Hervé (HBO)

One icon (Peter Dinklage) plays another icon (Hervé Villechaize). What starts as a funny buddy comedy becomes a revealing tale on what it means to be a prop first and a man second. The world is better—if only slightly—than when Villechaize was in Hollywood, and the difference between his career and Dinklage’s shows that. Yet you can tell Dinklage understands full well what Villechaize went through with dwarfism in Hollywood.  While it’s still an HBO biopic, My Dinner With Hervé keeps a lot of the humor that made Villechaize an icon as Tattoo on Fantasy Island and the evil henchman in The Man with the Golden Gun.

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