Last May, ABC announced their 2015-16 programming lineup and there were two sitcoms that really interested me, The Muppets and The Real O’Neals. While The Muppets debuted last Fall, ABC held The Real O’Neals for spring and I’m happy to say it was worth the wait. On March 2nd, get ready for things to get real.
From the outside, the O’Neal family appears to be perfect. They are a wholesome Catholic family living in the suburbs of Chicago and everyone in the community either loves them or wants to be them. But as we meet each family member, we discover that they are more dysfunctional than most. When they reach a breaking point at a church event, their entire community learns their secrets.
No longer able to sweep their problems under the rug, the family must learn how to be there for each other now that their dirty laundry is out in the open. Among the issues now on the table are divorce, theft, anorexia and homosexuality. There is no one main character, but the pilot seems to focus most on Noah, the middle child, who comes out of the closet under pressure from his girlfriend to take their relationship to the next level. Some of the funniest moments of the first two episodes stem from a peak inside his head where he often imagines public figures giving him advice (a male model in the pilot, Jimmy Kimmel in the second episode).
The premise is a hard sell, but The Real O’Neals has some clever writing and a great cast. The strongest players are definitely Martha Plimpton as the over-controlling mother and Noah Galvin as the gay son. I’m planning to keep up with The Real O’Neals after seeing the first two episodes, there’s a lot of potential here.