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‘The Real O’Neals’ Struggles to Fit In

Sonia See - March 7, 2016

The network that brought on a plethora of TV shows embracing diversity (Fresh Off The Boat, Blackish, and The Goldbergs) adds on a brand new sitcom about a very religious Irish-American family whose lives seem perfect until one night, where the entire family decides to confess their secrets. The parents (Plimpton and Ferguson) are getting divorced, the oldest child is an anorexic jock, the youngest child is a thief and the middle child (Noah Galvin) is gay. That last piece of news comes as a blow towards the obsessive mother who is determined to have a perfectly normal catholic family.

While it is fantastic that ABC decided to put a spin on the story of a gay child in a very Christian family, The Real O’Neals somehow feels outdated. From the get go, the show gives off a feeling that it would have had a better impact a couple of decades ago. With numerous shows (Glee, Modern Family) having excelled at the portrayal of homosexuality and the struggles, the bar was set pretty high. Given the fact that there still exists a number of teenagers whose very religious parents haven’t a clue about their identity, the show does get a bit difficult to laugh at.


(Photo: ABC) The show tries too hard to be funny. It’s obviously not enough.

Funny scenes were scarce in the first two episodes; most jokes were stale from being overdone by everyone else. The stereotypes failed to be hilarious because the writing translated to “trying to hard to be funny”, resulting in everything falling flat. That being said, there were a few promising scenes. It seems like the show will have to grow and find its own voice. It is, however, doubtful that the network will be patient enough to allow the cast and the show to settle in. Right now, it feels like someone unleashed a bunch of petty anti-catholic jokes and expect people to laugh about it just because they are textbook stereotypes.

As expected when you touch anything involving religion, a petition was set up to not let the show air but ABC/Disney did not cave. Other than the lows, The Real O’Neals should be given credit for at least tackling (though not quite realistically) some deep-rooted family issues. Unfortunately, it brings nothing new to the table.

Quick Cents

The Good
♠ The actors carry the show.
♠ Very few funny parts.

The Bad
♠ The show feels recycled and outdated.
♠ The humor does not quite stick.
♠ It’s difficult to laugh at because the stereotypes are not funny.

Where to Watch
♠ ABC: TUE 8.30/7.30c or watch online.
 Hulu: Watch the current season on Hulu.

Rating: 5/10 ¢


  1. Holy crap, people still petition to get anti-religious shows canceled? That’s pretty petty. As a religious person, the stereotypes and tired jokes annoy me to no end, but I handle it by not watching the show, not by trying to shut down things that other people might like. I’m a very ardent believer in free speech.

    So after reading quite a few of your articles, I notice that diversity is something that’s extremely valuable. While I think diversity is a pretty good thing to strive for, it is usually pretty low on my priority list. What makes diversity so important to you?

    1. I speak about diversity because it’s one of the most relevant and latest “issues” in the TV/Movie industry. Unless there exists another word to define something that’s diverse, I’m afraid I’m gonna have to overuse “diversity” haha ☺️
      I never mentioned any personal involvement with diversity. I do, however, mention that it is important in Hollywood. My reviews are fairly objective unless I state the obvious bias.
      I have been noting and pointing out the number of diverse shows or shows with a diverse cast out there, mainly to show that “hey it exists and they are working on it.”

      Either way, diversity in anything (not just people) is important because lack thereof would bring immense monotony.

    2. And yep, some people are something else! I love watching people try to have shows cancelled based of their beliefs. Sounds like oppression to me.
      I would advise them to be like you, if they are offended by something, simply walk away from it.

      1. I think that’s true. Typically, I tend to value people getting parts due to their talent rather than skin color. There have been quite a few people who have argued with me that diversity matters more than meritocracy, and I vehemently disagree. I was at a pretty unpopular position when all of the talk about lack-of-diversity in The Oscar nominations, but I continue to stand by that position. Ideally, we’d hopefully get a diverse cast that have merited the role, but if I had to choose one or the other, I will always choose merit.

        And yeah. The same people who signed the petition are probably the same people who protested A&E when they temporarily cancelled Duck Dynasty due to some things that Phil Robertson said. You simply cannot have it both ways. Either all speech (with exception to speech inciting violence or criminal activity) is on the table, or nothing is, and I believe the former is much better.

        1. Oh I absolutely agree with you. Skin colour or ethnicity shouldn’t weigh more than talent. It’s blasphemous that we’ve come to a point where people think they should be entitled because of their ethnicity or race. It’s appalling because what happened to merit?! What happened to working your butt off to be the best?
          I wasn’t very bothered by the latest Oscars because I figured that if people actually deserved to be nominated, they would. And I’m probably the definition of diversity itself, so I’m not being biased – just saying what is.

          Now ..opportunity is a different thing. I do agree that most roles in Hollywood are very textbook “we need a white person” …but if the actor is of outstanding talent, i would hope that the producers would accommodate him/her in the role. Either way, times are changing!

          Aha freedom of speech seems like a myth these days!

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