the conners

The Conners is home to an important piece of TV history - that couch. 

April 11, 2024
In The Mix

Dissecting the Iconic Living Room Set From The Conners

Key members of the sitcom's production take us on a tour of one of TV's most memorable sets.

With ABC's The Conners airing its 100th episode on April 10, we go behind the scenes and disect one of television's most iconic sets with help from the sitcom's showrunners, star and production designer. Check out the photo above and match the number in the image with the corresponding write-up below. 

1. If These Walls Could Talk

"Do you remember the insanity of trying to get the paint color right?" Dave Caplan asks his fellow executive producer Bruce Helford, who recalls thinking the walls needed to look "not too dingy but certainly not fresh."

"Just the little detail of having that paint color be right was everything," Caplan says, "and it took some doing." Four attempts, to be exact, before they settled on the color celadon.

2. One Tiny Accident

"When you look at the banister — the way it comes down to the newel post at the bottom of the stairs — that handrail is supposed to die into that white painted area, but for whatever reason I made a mistake on the drawing," says Jerry Dunn, production designer for The Conners. He also drew and decorated this (unchanged) set for the 1988 Roseanne pilot. "The guy in the shop built it the way I drew it but wouldn't go back and change it because it would have been a 'change order.' So that handrail is wrong, and it's been that way the whole time. It reminds me of those mistakes we make when we're young. Well, one I made has been on TV for 40-something years."

3. A Family Frame of Mind

Family photos behind the couch and on the fireplace mantle include portraits provided by The Conners' younger cast but also real-life memories of the show's original actors.

"One is actually a picture of Lecy [Goranson, who plays Becky] and me, at my real house," says Sara Gilbert, who plays Darlene (and is also an EP). And you'll find two actors who have passed: Glenn Quinn, who played Becky's boyfriend Mark, and Shelley Winters, who played the Conner kids' great-grandmother Mary.

4. Take a Seat

A replica of the original Roseanne couch was crafted for The Conners, even though producers found the real thing in a local TV museum's possession. "There were so many requirements for using the actual couch," Gilbert says. "It had to be insured. It had to come to set only on shoot days. You couldn't eat or drink on it. There had to be somebody guarding it. There were all these costs and complications, and we were laughing because we use to spill stuff and eat Cheetos on that couch. It was funny to see someone being so precious about it."

5. A Crocheted Classic

"The afghan is probably the most iconic piece and the thing everyone remembers most," Helford says. On originally procuring the prop, Dunn says, "I went to a couple swap meets looking for them and couldn't find them anywhere. But one of our guys was a big flea-market person who used to hit them up every weekend. He came running in on a Monday morning and goes, 'Look what I found.' He had a garbage bag full of them, and so we grabbed one out of that collection." The afghan now draped over the couch isn't a Roseanne original, of which Gilbert insists there were a few, but it has the same homemade charm. Who will end up with it when the series eventually concludes?

"It'll be a question of who looks away at what moment in time," Caplan jokes. "Or maybe everyone will get a square."

This article originally appeared in emmy magazine issue #3, 2024. 

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