The city of Chicago has been prominently featured in mainstream media, often depicted as a staple of the Midwest where the heart and tradition of America are in full swing with values such as honor, integrity, and tradition elaborately splayed across a suburban background. Michael Fishman’s hit TV show, The Conners (formerly known as Roseanne), heavily borrows this lush setting and places it in a fictional Chicago suburb called Lanford.
We sat down with Michael Fishman and asked him several questions regarding the hit TV show, as well as some details on his newly established production company.
Q: Your hit series The Conners takes place in a fictional Chicago suburb called Lanford. What actual place in Chicago do you feel this is based on?
A: Lanford historically was loosely based in Elgin, Illinois. Lanford obviously has taken on a life of its own through the years, but that was the original inspiration.
Q: What has the series done to identify and relate back to the values and look/feel of it being set in Chicago?
A: The core of our show is the Midwest as a whole. The honor, integrity, and tradition of the heart of America. That is a strength of Chicago. From set decorations, props to wardrobe of local places and sports teams, we have tried to pull in recognizable elements into the show. What I love is we are a very real-looking family in a “lived-in” home, where the family supports their local teams. Bears, Cubs, Bulls and Blackhawks have all been featured in episodes and even the name of episodes.
Q: How has filming been during the pandemic?
Filming during a pandemic brings a lot of challenges, extra protocols, subtle shifts in schedules. From spacing scenes to spreading the crew out behind the scenes, everything is designed to keep everyone in production safe. We wear masks and face shields right up until we film the scenes. Everyone is tested multiple times a week, and as actors, because we take our gear off to shoot scenes, we are tested every day.
Q: Beyond The Conners, you are creating other shows, movies and productions. Anything you can tease us with that is on the horizon?
A: I have so much in the pipeline. It is an incredible time. My writing partner and I are working to secure the right production and professional partnerships. My passion for military families, fueled by my own family, has compelled me to write a sitcom. That is one of the projects I am most excited about. Much like our show, it takes a very real, honest look at tough issues that face military families, but through the prism of humor and community.
The Conners is truly more than just an homage to the beauty of Chicago. It takes traditional family values and pushes the message of families working together despite the struggles of mostly working blue-collar jobs. It shows the strength of families in the face of adversity and the bonds that bind them more than just their blood, a bond rooted in love and sacrifice, showing the world the true Chicago way of living.
To know more about Michael Fishman, make sure to follow him on Instagram.