Darlene has a daughter? J/K Last season she was a non-entity to me, and she still feels that way. It's possible she can morph into a more 'fleshed out' Darlene 2.0 but for now, she's invisible.
I agree with you. I could almost see the epi where Archie was on the porch having a serious talk with his granddaughter/niece/whatever, Stephanie, right after Meathead and Gloria moved to California. Which is right when the show jumped the shark for me.
Mostly gone was the comedy and in came the heavy-handed, badly acted social issues. Don't want 'em in my comedy shows. Got 'em all day, every day, everywhere else. I hope Roseanne...er...The Conners, doesn't fall victim to the same thing. Although, like you said, the re-boot of this feels similar to the re-boot of All in the Family's, Archie Bunker's Place. Which was the death knell for that beloved series.