ABC’s The Real O’Neals is one of my favorite shows on television right now. So when I found out that I would be sitting down with some of the cast as well as the executive producers while in LA for the #ABCTVEvent & #CaptainAmericaEvent, I was thrilled! This show is great because it mixes comedy with serious topics. The O’Neals are a Catholic family where the parents are getting divorced, one son is gay, one son is anorexic, and the daughter is a bit of a thief. They have their issues but they stick together and stand up for each other often.
There is such chemistry between the actors so I was not surprised one bit when each of them confirmed that they hit it off immediately. Matt Shively (Jimmy) let us know that they hang out off set all of the time. They go out for drinks after long days of shooting (when you would think they would be sick of seeing each other all day), they sing karaoke together, and they even get together to live tweet, periscope, and Facebook live during episodes! In fact, they have a group text message going so they can keep in touch at all times.
When asked what kind of fun they have on set – we were told that a certain someone (Jay R. Ferguson who plays Pat) strives to make the others break character. Whether it is from making faces when they are trying to do a scene together, or just sneaking up behind them and yelling right in their ear. Jay also does this thing with his fingers where he makes it sound like a bee is in someone’s ear. Noah Galvin (Kenny) says this happens a lot when someone is looking at their phone in between takes. Jay says he prefers to do it when they are on location and there really could be a bee.
I was interested to discover the background of the show, so when it was time to chat with the executive producers, I was excited to hear what they had to say. Casey Johnson & David Windsor have been writing partners for 16 or 17 years and when The Real O’Neals got picked up, they added Stacy Traub as a third show runner. This is the first show that Casey & David have gotten on air – so they are really excited about it. When asked if they bring their own experiences to the show, the answer is yes. Stacy is divorced and David was raised by two gay dads, and his parents were also divorced. He is Catholic as well and told us that they have “five or six gay writers with several Catholic writers. So [they] try to bring everyone’s experiences that they don’t mind exploiting for television into the show.”
Casey added “It was really important to us, none of us are gay and we’re telling the story, a coming-of-age story about a gay teenager. So we wanted to bring a lot of gay writers onto the show. Our in-house director Todd Hollan is gay. He brought a lot of his own personal experience to the show. We just wanted it to feel very, very authentic and real.” Well, I think they are doing a great job. If you watch The Real O’Neals, then you know they do tackle some serious issues here and there. When asked about David said “it’s a constant fine line that we’re walking. We deal with a lot of really heavy issues. At the same time we’re making a comedy and we have these amazing comic actors. The goal is to laugh, but we’re not afraid of getting into some of that stuff.” The writers want to be sure they are not being offensive while being funny. I have watched all of the episodes of the show (plus two that haven’t even aired yet) and I think it is hilarious – but not offensive. I am not gay but I do have a couple of gay cousins – one of which is a huge fan of the show himself.
With the Pope being more lenient about divorce, but not as much with gay marriage, Casey told us they just might address this if The Real O’Neals gets picked up for a season 2. Eileen could start to feel better and appreciate what the Pope is doing, while Kenny would still feel unappreciated. “That’s what is exciting about this show, that we can tell stories about what’s really going on in the conversations people are having in their houses.”
One of my favorite “fun facts” that I learned from the cast was that Matt blames himself for Jimmy’s slicked back hair. He claims that he was going through a “quarter life crisis” and thought it looked good. Once he realized that it did not, he tried to get them to change it. He made some good points like his gay brother would definitely give him a makeover, but the writers like Jimmy’s hair the way it is. Matt says that is fine though because in real life he “looks like a human being and not a turtle.”
Hair was a hot topic in the interviews because everyone’s hair looked fabulous! We joked about having a contest to see whose was the best. Noah pointed out that Jay has a “system” which we went on to discover is “low maintenance” and basically just a headband. “When you see Jay and he’s not filming, he usually has a headband on.” Noah explained. Jay admitted he had it on right before they got out of the car to come to the interviews, and Noah chimed in that the thought he was going to walk in with the headband. I started laughing as Noah added “I thought it was his fancy headband.” and Jay quickly added “It is. I only have two right now. One to wear to swear in when I work out and one to wear when I’m clean. So it was the clean one.”
Speaking of hair, I learned that Mary Hollis Inboden (Jodi) is no longer allowed to have real scissors on set. In fact, she is a colorist and not a hairstylist because of an on set incident. She was practicing on a dummy with scissors to get in to character. Once she was on set, there was an extra with hair extensions and she tried to do a little flip of the scissors and almost cut someone – so that is when they took the scissors away from her. I also loved hearing how the character of Jodi developed – because she was actually originally a neighbor with teenage son who got his girlfriend pregnant, not a kooky Aunt. When she auditioned for the role, she figured it was a long shot – the neighbor was supposed to be 45. But she had fun with it and they loved her so much that they changed to role to fit her (and boy am I glad they did!).
Everyone we talked to told us about the impact they think this show has been having on the viewers. The Twitter support has been amazing and many young gay kids have been reaching out to Noah. He does his best to forward everyone to The Trevor Project (http://www.thetrevorproject.org/) for help if they need it. The Real O’Neals seems to be inspiring many to come out, and one young man let them know after watching an episode, he drove to his parents’ house and came out. When asked if it is easier for young ment ot come out now than it was 5 or 10 years ago, Noah answered “I’d say it gets easier and easier every day. I’m hoping that a show like this can normalize things like that. We’re telling that story through a comedic lens and it’s not a heavy drama that adds more turmoil and struggle with sexuality. It’s something you can laugh at and your parents can laugh at. It’s not about Kenny’s struggle with his sexuality – it’s about his adolescence.” Jay says “One of my big dreams for the show is to certainly win over people that may have thought that they wouldn’t like the show or respond to the show. My whole family on both sides is deep south Southern Baptist raised in church. They definitely would not have been watching if I weren’t on it. But they gave it a chance – hearts and minds have already been changed. You really can change hearts with laughter.”
Noah went on to say “I think a lot of people feared that our show was bashing or alienating or humiliating – even the Catholic church in particular. My dad’s Catholic. He goes to church literally every morning, and he loves our show. Because of the little Catholic references” like fundraising – which Jay stated is “big with [his] people too”.
Well, in my opinion, The Real O’Neals is a must watch comedy – I am eagerly awaiting a season 2. The cast is hilarious and have true chemistry, as they demonstrated in our interviews. You get lucky with a cast like that so let’s not take advantage of it. There are lots more story lines for the writers to explore – give them a chance.
“The Real Book Club” Synopsis (Airing TONIGHT 4/19)
Eileen faces her book club for the first time after her family’s “outing,” but things take a surprising turn when instead of shunning her the ladies begin opening up – way too much – about their own problems. Kenny’s first trip to the “gayborhood” coffee shop is everything he’d hoped for, until Pat tags along with him to a gay dodge ball match.
I loved this episode. When we previewed it, we were all laughing and laughing. It was so fun to watch it with Matt Shively (Jimmy) in the room with us. Honestly, The Real O’Neals has quickly become my favorite comedy show on TV. They address serious issues but in a light and funny way. The writers are brilliant!
Tune in to The Real O’Neals Tuesdays at 8:30/7:30c on ABC – and remember – be sure to watch live (or on DVR within 3 days) to help boost ratings so we can be sure there is a Season 2 of The Real O’Neals!
Like THE REAL O’NEALS on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheRealONeals
Follow THE REAL O’NEALS on Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheRealONeals
Follow NOAH GALVIN (Kenny) on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Noahegalvin
Follow MATT SHIVELY (Jimmy) on Twitter: https://twitter.com/MattShively1
Follow JAY R. FERGUSON (Pat) on Twitter: https://twitter.com/jrfergjr
Follow MARY HOLLIS INBODEN (Jodi) on Twitter: https://twitter.com/maryhollis
Follow CASEY JOHNSON (Executive Producer) on Twitter: https://twitter.com/trocaseyjohnson
Follow DAVID WINDSOR (Executive Producer) on Twitter: https://twitter.com/dwindsor789
Follow STACY TRAUB (Executive Producer) on Twitter: https://twitter.com/stoocytroob
#TheRealONeals | #ABCTVEvent
The opinions expressed here are that of Mama Smith’s only. While the products in this post were given complimentary (unless otherwise stated) for me to review, that does not alter my opinion of the product(s) mentioned. This post may contain sponsored links and affiliate links (which will be stated at the beginning of the post).