The Conners star (and now director) Michael Fishman has been a TV staple for most of his life, with his Roseanne career starting in 1988 when he was just six years old. But while TV audiences are used to seeing him in a comedic setting, with the ABC series having recently returned for Season 3, Fishman has been coping with an unspeakably tough real-world tragedy. In June, he was in the process of formally adopting teenage son Larry when the youth suffered a fatal drug overdose, and now Fishman has spoken publicly about it for the first time.
In an emotional interview on The Tamron Hall Show, Michael Fishman opened up about the origins of his relationship with Larry, whose sister Camille was already part of the family household with the actor's two biological children. (He and ex-wife Jennifer Briner split a few years ago.) When Tamron Hall asked Fishman to speak about Larry's struggles with drug abuse, he said that wasn't exactly the situation with this case, telling the host:
It wasn’t so much a struggle for him. People try things over time, I think, and I don't really think that was an issue for him overall. He moved to a house in transition after living with his sister for a little while, and he tried drugs that turned out to be bad drugs that multiple people had a very serious reaction. You're a mom. When you look at Moses every day, you see the positive and you see the potential. In my case, I think I came to Larry maybe later than I wish I could've, and I think for parents, you wish you had more time. And you don't always get the time that you want.
It sounds like Larry's experiences with drugs were at a recreational level, as opposed to something more consistent and serious. Of course, as his death proves, all it takes is a single bad decision to turn everything upside-down.
Part of what makes Larry's story all the more heartbreaking is the fact that not only was Larry's adoption process close to being completed, but he was also soon going to age out of the foster care system altogether. Sadly, neither situation came to fruition before his untimely passing.
While Michael Fishman shared a social media post in Larry's memory on National Sons Day in September, the actor largely maintained his separation from the public eye before deciding to appear on Tamron Hall's talk show. Admitting that he might not have even taken that step at a younger age, Fishman felt it was important to speak up about Larry's death now as a way of normalizing the grieving process both for his other children and for families everywhere. In his words:
So it's this combination of trying to find a way to help my kids grieve and go through that process and to model positive behavior. A couple years ago, I probably would have never shared this, to be honest with you. But if one other person can relate, if it can help you talk to your kids in some way, if it opens up a dialogue where you just listen, I think the trauma that lies underneath [can be helped]. . . . The really important part is that you’re brave enough to admit when you struggle, and that you need help, or that you aren’t strong.
You can check out that National Sons Day post below.
Though Michael Fishman is certainly dealing with a lot on a personal level, he has also been able to celebrate his directorial debut for The Conners, as he helmed Wednesday night's holiday-themed installment titled "Halloween and The Election vs. The Pandemic." Catch new episodes (with and without Katey Sagal) airing on ABC every Wednesday night at 8:00 p.m. ET, and head to our Fall TV 2020 premiere schedule to see what new and returning shows are on the way soon.