'The Conners': Ames McNamara Talks Gender Fluid Role of Mark on the ABC Sitcom
Throughout the hit ABC reboot series Roseanne, and its spin-off, The Conners, Darlene Conners’ (Sara Gilbert) gender non-conforming son has dropped subtle hints about his sexuality.
On the Oct. 1, 2019 episode, “A Kiss is Just a Kiss,” Mark (Ames McNamara) officially comes out to his parents as gay.
“We have to go see the principal tomorrow because your school has a no PDA (Public Display of Affection) rule and somebody posted a picture of you kissing your friend Austin at school,” Darlene says to her son. As any mother would do, she continues to question Mark's possible relationship status. “So, Austin’s your boyfriend?" she asks. How come you didn’t tell me?”
Mark innocently informs his mom that the kiss transpired after the two were so excited when they found out that their school was going to be serving personal pizzas... that they kissed. “That was the first time (his first kiss). He only told me he was gay last week,” he says to Darlene. Unfortunately, the tween boy learns during the episode that not everyone is accepting of the LGBTQ+ community.
Ames McNamara’s character Mark comes out as gay.
While meeting with the school principal, Darlene and Austin’s grandmother have an argument after she denies her grandson is gay. “Maybe you don't want to accept the fact that your grandkid might be gay, but you scaring him into denying... it’s just gonna ruin his life,” Darlene states.
Later that evening, upset after losing his friend, Mark starts removing his signature nail polish, telling his mom, “You told me I shouldn’t hide who I am and look what happened.” He continued, “My life would be so much easier if I wasn’t gay.”
Though, after talking with both his parents, he starts to feel better about coming out, saying, “I love myself! I'm glad I'm gay!”
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, executive producer Sara talked about the reboot series (Roseanne) creating Mark’s storyline. “It represents the world. This is a show that’s always been able to represent the world and talk about it without being so issue-heavy. We can do it through the dynamics of the family,” she told the outlet in 2018.
Is Mark Conner transgender?
After the show premiered, there were a lot of questions regarding if Mark was transgender because he likes to dress in girls' clothing. However, Sara told EW that he is not. Instead, he’s based on a few boys she personally knows who dress in “more traditionally feminine clothing.”
Speaking with Good Morning America in 2018 about his character, Ames said: "Mark's just a normal kid.” Adding, "He likes to do art, he likes playing basketball and wearing girls' clothes is just a small part of Mark."
Mark’s sexuality and exploration into his finding his identity will most likely be a continued storyline on the ABC sitcom series. At least, we hope so! Catch new episodes of The Conners on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.