“Keep on Truckin’ Six Feet Apart” finds The Conners at their worst in the midst of the pandemic, but the show’s own storied history might hold the plastic key to their salvation.
This recap of The Conners season 3, episode 1, “Keep on Truckin’ Six Feet Apart”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous season by clicking these words.
We’re going to have to get used to our entertainment being set in, about, or at least informed by the current Covid-19 pandemic. We’ve had some examples already, including the recent Social Distance on Netflix. When I wrote about that I questioned if it’s perhaps a little bit too soon to be making light of this, and I suppose the same could be said of “Keep On Truckin’ Six Feet Apart”, the third season premiere of ABC’s highly-rated The Conners. The obvious advantage of a sitcom, though, is that it can reliably mine humor from such a situation, even if this episode digs into its own storied history for some pathos too.
That’s the other advantage of The Conners specifically – it has years and years of vintage history to pluck from in the form of Roseanne, which is how Jackie can reminisce about her old boss Booker who “looked just like George Clooney”, and how Darlene and Becky can both get jobs at the recently reopened Wellman Plastics, where both Roseanne and Jackie worked back in the day.
Wellman Plastics is one of very few places hiring these days. As of The Conners season 3, episode 1, The Lunch Box is closed for everything except takeout and delivery, Darlene and Ben’s magazine has gone under, and Dan has been handed an eviction notice by a guest-starring Danny Trejo. The Conners has always been in large part about a blue-collar family struggling to make ends meet, but the third season fittingly finds them as low as they’ve ever been. Dan is trying to build drywall by himself after having lain off his crew, and he’s even ready to accept rent from the kids after being given a stern talking to by Louise, who is living with them in their bubble.
This should hopefully provide a pretty rich setup for the rest of the season. By the end of “Keep On Truckin’ Six Feet Apart”, Darlene and Becky are working at Wellman Plastics while Becky’s illegal immigrant baby daddy looks after Beverly Rose, Jackie is running the Lunch Box by herself, and both Dan and Louise are learning to live with one another perhaps a little earlier than they might have been forced to otherwise. The funny, meta Clooney gag might have been one of this premiere’s stand-out beats, but it was Darlene and Becky sat outside Wellman Plastics crying about what returning there means to the family that really sticks with you. Times are hard for everyone, even sitcom stars. We’ll just have to see if they get better.
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