“Lanford… Lanford” saw Darlene finally make a decision on her romantic future — but she isn’t the only one deciding what she wants.
This recap of The Conners Season 1, Episode 4, “Lanford… Lanford”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
And just like that, “Lanford… Lanford” brought Darlene’s (Sara Gilbert) messy love triangle to an even messier close. It was bound to happen. Since the season began Darlene has been juggling both hunky bearded Ben (Jay R. Ferguson) and simpering doormat David (Johnny Galecki), and with Harris (Emma Kenney) already blackmailing her it was only a matter of time until everything was out in the open. In the end, a flat tire tipped off all parties involved, with Darlene turning to everyone for help at the same time, including Jackie (Laurie Metcalf), who just laughed at the ridiculousness of her predicament and sped off into the night.
For what it’s worth, Darlene chose Ben. But Ben, figuring out he had been lied to, chose to call their relationship off anyway. After finally attending couples’ therapy with David, her mind made up, Darlene was blindsided by David’s own desire to leave her. In The Conners Season 2, Episode 4, she was dumped twice and ended up with nobody.
It was David finally standing up for himself that landed with the most punch, thanks to a well-timed flashback to Roseanne in which David bemoaned the power imbalance in their relationship. All these years later, “Lanford… Lanford” scarily mirrors reality by showing that he never plucked up the courage to address it. He had lived his whole life as second-best.
There’s no wonder, really, that Harris always implied she’d side with him. In The Conners Season 2, Episode 4, she gets friendly with her tattooed vegan pothead friend Odessa (Eliza Bennett), with Darlene having no say whatsoever in her revealing dress or obvious pot usage. In that relationship, Darlene is fulfilling the same role David did in theirs; a spineless nuisance, to be manipulated.
Becky (Lecy Goranson) got a touching subplot of her own in “Lanford… Lanford” as she continued to grapple with her financial woes while Dan (John Goodman) continued to worry about her drinking. This was backgrounded by the resolution to Darlene’s love triangle, but it was there nonetheless. The comedy of The Conners continues to reside in its truthfulness and proximity to reality; now that it has — probably temporarily — done away with the romance, it has plenty of room for more of the stuff that sets it apart.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.