By Zach Johnson
On February 11, ABC will broadcast The Conners live—and the cast will perform twice in one night! The special episode of the top-rated comedy will coincide with the New Hampshire primary, airing at 8 p.m. on the East and West coasts. ABC News’ coverage of the political event will be incorporated into the story in real time as the results roll in throughout the evening. Actress Jayden Rey, who plays D.J.’s daughter, Mary, explains, “We only get one shot, so we’re going to make the most of it, even if we mess up!”
“I love that we’re going to be mixing the votes in,” adds Emma Kenney, who plays Harris. “People won’t have to choose one or the other to watch that night.” In between the East and West coast tapings, she adds, “We’ll all be watching the primary together.”
The special episode will find Mark (Ames McNamara) watching the primary for a school report with Harris (Kenney), who is critical of the electoral process and thinks money’s influence in politics stifles genuine change. The rest of the Conner family will share their conflicting opinions about why they think everybody should vote—even if they don’t agree with a candidate on every issue. “People are going to see how the family comes together over what’s going on in the world,” says Micahel Fishman, who plays D.J. “It’s not really going to be tilted toward one side or the other; it’s really going to be about how the family deals with it. I hope people at home will be having the same conversations we are. It’s going to be going on in real-time, live on both coasts, so there will be a different feel to it each time.”
All of this happens against the backdrop of romance when Louise (guest star Katey Sagal) gets an opportunity that might send her away from Lanford, Illinois. So, the family throws her a surprise going-away party… creating major tension between Dan (John Goodman) and his daughters Darlene (Sara Gilbert) and Becky (Lecy Goranson).
No matter how the New Hampshire primary turns out—or whether Louise stays in Lanford—the episode will hopefully remind viewers that it’s OK to want different things. “Families don’t always agree, right? Sometimes that’s the best thing that can happen to you, because it changes your viewpoint or it opens your mind,” says Fishman. “It’s about finding a place where you can come together and laugh, even in difficult times.”