Sara Gilbert, Laurie Metcalf talk 'The Conners' surviving and thriving on ABC

NEW YORK (WABC) -- The series that began as a reboot of "Roseanne" has survived and thrived despite the departure of its star, Roseanne Barr.

Renamed as "The Conners," the program has become a mainstay of the ABC Tuesday night lineup. And as I found out during a recent trip to Los Angeles, that's due to the perseverance of one of its executive producers, Sara Gilbert.

If there is one person who can be called the savior of this sitcom, it would be Gilbert, who first played Darlene in 1988.

"I always felt these character were so important to America," she said. "And people need to see a family struggling to pay the bills and struggling to get by and still loving each other."

It's a comedy, of course, but there is plenty of drama.

Laurie Metcalf described it as, "Being able to walk that very fine line of still being funny, but dealing with a crisis."

The crisis came last season, when "The Conners" had to face the death of the family matriarch Roseanne Conner after the star of the series flamed out.

A racist tweet got Roseanne Barr fired from the series, which had her own name in the title.

Metcalf wasn't sure they should continue.

"I thought, 'Should we just leave it alone? Should we just honestly walk away from it now?" she said. "Or do we take this risk and go out on a limb and possibly fail? I didn't know what to do."

Gilbert argued the show should continue and Metcalf decided to put her trust in her co-star, but both also credit their writers for the show's survival.

"They just know the characters as well or better than we do," Metcalf said.

"The Conners" is a show with an edge, and Gilbert said that's what you need in an era when there is so much choice about what to watch on TV.

"Some of it is just luck that the family is relevant today," she said. "And so people are relating to what we're going through."

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