‘The Real O’Neals’ Cast: How the Network Sitcom Tells a Unique LGBT Story

Arya Roshanian

The Paley Center in Beverly Hills, Calif. hosted the cast and producers of “The Real O’Neals” Tuesday evening.

The ABC sitcom had its season premiere on Oct. 11 in tandem with Tuesday’s event, which also coincided with National Coming Out Day. The panel included stars Martha PlimptonJay R. FergusonNoah GalvinMary Hollis Inboden and executive producers Casey Johnson, David Windsor and Stacy Traub.

The first season of “The Real O’Neals” centers on an image obsessed, Chicago-based Irish-American family dealing with the recent coming out of their teenage son, Kenny. Johnson told Variety she originally got involved with the project because it differed immensely from many LGBT sitcoms that aired in the past.

“Initially, we were really excited about the idea of telling a real coming-of-age story of a gay teenager today in America,” said Johnson. “That seemed really exciting for us especially on network television, because it’s never been done before. And ABC has been so encouraging in helping us tell those stories.”

Much of the panel was dedicated to discussing not only LGBT issues on a national level, but also in the household. Plimpton, who portrays the O’Neal’s matriarch, stated that although her character Eileen has her quirks, she is not very different from any parent of an LGBT child.

“We know that nobody who reacts badly to anything in any given moment is intending to do harm,” said Plimpton on her character’s reaction to her son’s sexual identity. “It’s incumbent upon us to tell the story of that relationship that so many parents have with their children regardless of whether they’re coming out as gay or trans, or just rebelling in a way they never expected and don’t know how to deal with it.”

The second season premiere saw guest appearances from Jane Lynch, Lance Bass, Tyler Oakley and RuPaul. However, Indoben has her eyes set for a particular guest star to appear on the series.

“I would really love to see Bette Midler on our show,” said Indoben. “I love everything that she stands for, and I’m a huge fan and I hope she sings karaoke with us.”

“The Real O’Neals” airs Tuesdays on ABC.

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