Troubled Darlene Conner (Sara Gilbert) is spinning in the Season 4 premiere of the blue-collar family sitcom, The Conners.
Heartbreakingly, estranged boyfriend Ben (Jay R. Ferguson) isn’t up for a reconciliation, causing her to wonder if her outlook on life is too negative. To find answers, she joins recovering-alcoholic sister Becky (Lecy Goranson) at her AA meeting, led by upbeat Pastor Phil (two-episode guest star Jason Alexander), who’s known as more than a little unconventional.
Alexander explains: “With the full acknowledgment that I am neither Christian nor a man of the cloth, my guess is that term relates to his self-deprecating humor and the somewhat tortuous path he took to the pulpit.”
While the Pastor Phil of today is undeniably caring and authentic, “he’s had quite a self-destructive and unhappy past,” the actor reveals. “He is certainly not without sin.”
Can he help nonbeliever Darlene find a little faith? Pastor Phil recognizes her reluctance in attending the meeting, Alexander says, but he’s got a strategy to help her on her journey of self-discovery: “a combo of ‘Lean on me’ and ‘No one can do it but you.’” Regardless, she’s guaranteed to take away something from the experience, he quips. “Coffee and cookies are provided.”
The Conners, Season 4 Premiere, Wednesday, September 22, 9/8c, ABC
This is an excerpt from TV Guide Magazine’s 2021 Returning Favorites issue. For more inside scoop on the new fall TV season, pick up the issue, on newsstands now.