S3 Ep 12: Blue Blockers

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We’re talking here about the 17th and 18th episodes of season 3 of the Conners (“Regrets, Rehabs, and Realtors” and “Cheating, Revelations, and a Box of Doll Heads,” respectively). We are struck by the serious, emotional moments in these episodes. Becky’s struggle with alcoholism and her trip to Jewish rehab (an infinitely awkward plot point), in particular, brings us to reckon with the elder Mark’s death, Dan’s anger, and Becky’s regrets about her life choices. This also brings up powerful memories for Jackie, who reminds Becky about the family legacy of alcoholism, connecting with the original series storyline about Roseanne and Jackie reckoning with their father’s violence and alcoholism.

We very much take sides with Darlene about her desire to use the Hawaii tickets, rather than sell them. Brian Austin Green, on a field trip out of Beverly Hills, also agrees. Ben is such a stick in the mud, and his mother, Barb (welcome back, Candace Bergen) is a presumptuous maniac, as she confronts Dan about getting help with the mortgage from his kids, effectively keeping her son from happiness. We note the middle-class moral framework embedded in Barb’s perception of familial mutual aid as exploitation. All of this leads Darlene to question whether she and Ben really want the same things.

All the while, Mark looks amazing in his Peter Bogdanovich-style blue blockers. Sadly, these specs reflect Darlene’s clumsy effort to help Mark cheat on a Zoom exam in a bit of added political commentary about class privilege and education. Of course, we spiral about Operation Varsity Blues, scholarships for surprising college sports (sailing?!), and motivational posters.

We top the discussion with a reflection on the reconciliation of JLo and Ben Affleck, aka Bennifer 2.0. Our viewing roundup explores the joy of entering the time capsule of 1970s and 80s New York in the Sons of Sam docuseries, as well as Designing Women alumna Jean Smart’s re-entrance into TV consciousness in the new show Hacks.

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