A few moons ago, there was a pilot being created about a family and Dan Savage was involved. Full stop.
This and this alone was enough to get the attention of radical conservative groups like the Media Research Center and the Family Research Council. They took their cue from One Million Moms, who call and write and bombard whoever or whatever they feel they need to whenever they feel like something shouldn’t happen. Something like a gay person getting a job, for example, or a lesbian hanging out with a few of Santa’s elves in a Christmas commercial. You know, evil, Satanic stuff like that.
So, this man named Dan Savage was involved in a show. (Evil.) The show was about a family. (How dare he pretend to understand families.) The family happens to be religious. (What one Earth is he thinking?!) And one member of the family is struggling to accept his homosexuality. (Sounds of heads exploding.)
“What exactly is their problem with Dan Savage,” you ask? Well, you see, dear reader: at one point and time, Dan Savage said that some people use the bible in such a way that it results in severely fucking up or all-together ending the lives of gay children and that the people using the bible in such a way should cut that shit out.
Lucifer incarnate, right?
So, they called and they wrote and they screamed and they hollered. Thousands upon thousands of messages sent to ABC telling them exactly why the show should not be made and exactly how long they’ll be burning in hell with Mr. Savage if it is and how they’re only saying it to save the world or whatever. ABC, rightly, told them to suck a fat one and ordered the pilot to series. And, dear readers, I’m glad they did.
Last night, they premiered the first two episodes of The Real O’Neals. And they wrapped each episode around a brand new episode of much-loved Modern Family, which tells me they have a lot of faith in it and want to give it its best chance to flourish. We meet the O’Neals after church, having lunch at a diner, acting on their best behavior because matriarch Eileen wouldn’t have it any other way (Kenny, “the rebel,” leaned back on his chair anyway). She also will make sure that every dietary need of each member of her clan is met by ordering each of their meals for them (Pat, daddy-o, has accepted that he’ll be able to eat whatever he wants in Heaven). Shannon, the younger sister, asks the waitress (a bit too eagerly) to donate her tips to her fundraising effort to feed children in Ethiopia. (The waitress refuses, even though Eileen “politely” made it clear that her soul would be going to hell if she did so.) And then there’s Jimmy. He’s the oldest of Eileen and Pat’s children. He’s a dumb jock. I never really cared for dumb jocks. Maybe he’ll grow on me, but I doubt it. (I may or may not have “straight older brother” issues.)
At the head of the table is Jesus.
Not really. But Eileen does always say to act as though Jesus was watching. Sort of creepy, if you think about it. Masturbation and all that. I digress.
Later at their home, Eileen, chair of the church’s upcoming bingo-bonanza fundraising event, was preparing everything necessary for the festivities while everyone else from church fed her “humble” ego by watching her do it. Pat, a police officer, comes home with the very worst of news: the ride-along, which was to be the big ticket item at the bingo auction, could not be secured because of the person who won last year’s ride-along (whose suit against the police department because of it is still in litigation). Eileen, ever the day saver, decides that they should auction off Pat’s canoe (the symbol of all of his hopes and dreams that, tellingly, has only ever been in his garage and has never touched water). In a stunning example of Irish-Catholic-Mom-guilt-slash-Jedi-mind-control, she basically mentions their priest and how dumb Jimmy is which forces Pat into giving her the OK to sell his happiness.
Meanwhile, upstairs with his very horny 16-year-old girlfriend, Kenny tries to explain why they should still not have sex, even after six months of dating. She could not care less and throws 48 condoms at him. He takes them suckers into the bathroom (to make a proper entrance later, he explains) where he has a quick conversation with the shirtless cologne model in his mirror about why he can’t come out of the closet. In short: Because of Eileen. And, ironically enough, because of the Virgin Mary, which a statue of whom sits atop his toilet so he’ll always remember to flush. (Sidebar: Religion’s fucking stupid, man.) Anyway, to prevent the death-by-emotion of his mother, he simply cannot come out. Still, though, being gay… he can’t have sex with his girlfriend either. So, he flushes the condoms. All 48 of them. Which, you guessed it, clogs the pipes and causes severe water damage in the form of ceiling plaster falling on a whole mess of gift baskets and their local priest. The O’Neals definitely noticed the condoms which, later, makes “all that sex stuff” the topic of conversation in the O’Neal household. Kenny is told that unless he wants even more, and much larger, Virgin Mary statues in his life, he is to never get his girlfriend pregnant as a result of “humping to hip-hop” (not my words, though I wish they were).
The news of Condomgate doesn’t stay within the O’Neal house, unfortunately. The cardio salsa class at the church was abuzz with gossip about those crazy teens and their crazy pipe-plugging bathroom sex, as revealed by Jodi (ex-sister-in-law of Eileen who’s your typical hanger-on and general funny bone tickler). Rather than kill Marsha Worthman, the biggest blabbermouth of their church crowd, Eileen decides that they have to nip the entire situation in the bud, Officer Pat-style. Much like the way he deters his kids from texting while driving by bringing them to the site of extreme car wrecks, he brings Kenny to Crystal. A hooker. Who tells him lots of terrible stories, but nothing really registers until she asks him why he wants to have sex with that girl at all since, duh, he’s gay. Shocked and appalled by the truth he’s well aware of, he thanks her and leaves.
Later, at the big ol’ fundraiser, everyone is being their helpful Catholic selves. Shannon is selling the bingo tickets (and I mean really selling them… guilt tripping the priest and his Lexus into buying more of them), Eileen is fake-smiling in the face of the local blabbermouth when she’s not handing crying babies to Kenny and his girlfriend to deter them from the dirty deed even more, Pat is distracting all canoe bidders with stories of West Nile virus being contracted in open water, and Jimmy is piling a mountain of food onto his plate. And here’s where the full scope of the plot begins to unfold. Jimmy takes said giant mountain of food all the way through the buffet line and promptly throws it all away. Twist!
One terrifying vision of a heterosexual future (complete with four screaming kids and a fifth on the way) later, Kenny decides that he must come out. Virgin Mary be damned. He takes Pat into the church’s kitchen and proceeds with homosexuality of it all. Or tries to, at least. The best way he can think to put it is thus:
“Vagina’s scare me.”
Convinced he screwed his child up, what with the conversations with prostitutes and such, he radios Eileen, Jimmy, and Shannon to come into the kitchen for an impromptu family meeting. At this point, Kenny doesn’t particularly want to talk about his vaginal fears so, properly taking the reigns, Pat decides everyone should talk about something uncomfortable. (How I wish conversations amongst my family members went this way.) He reveals that he and Eileen have been going to therapy every Tuesday night for a year. (Glass house, meet stone.) The only reason Eileen doesn’t manage to stop him is because he just might have a point. You know, the one about them never talking about their issues and how it’s really fucking up their kids. Jumping on board, Eileen reveals that on her and Pat’s second date, they got stoned and conceived Jimmy at a Foreigner concert. Having been raised by Irish-Catholic parents themselves, they did “the right thing,” got married, and made it work… until it didn’t. So, they’re trying to make divorce work now.
Now smack dab in the middle of a “this is why we’re not perfect” conversation, Kenny realizes there will probably never be a better time to tell them. As he’s about to, though, big dumb jock Jimmy admits that he’s anorexic. He’s intent on shoving every brownie in sight down his throat, but he won’t because he loves watching the number on the scales drop. (I can relate, gurl.) Also, sweet young Shannon spent every cent of the charitable donations given to her on a car she found on Craigslist. Drug use, premarital sex, divorce, eating disorders, and money laundering now on the table… Kenny spills his bean. A couple times, in fact, though he only really had to say it once in order for everyone in the church hall to hear it and everything else our really real O’Neals just said. The acoustics up in that bitch are great.
Of course, on their way out, doing the walk of shame, Blabbermouth McGee makes sure to talk some shit. Specifically, she tells Eileen how happy she is to take the canoe she won off their hands in the wake of all their “problems.”
Eileen and clan (minus Pat), quite frankly, will be having none of that bullshit. Cut to them running in line through the parking lot, canoe above their heads, completely devoid of any fucks to give. Sadly (for us, the highly entertained viewers), Pat catches up with them, stops them, and initiates the postmortem. The talk about the talk, if you will. The emotions don’t really get settled, and they probably won’t for a good while. But our dear O’Neals do feel a bit of solidarity. And if keeping their God damn canoe helps his “typical, all-American, Catholic, divorcing, disgraced, law-breaking, gay” family in some way, Pat is up for it. They’re the O’Neals, damn it. And they’re “a perfect mess.”
So, to sum up: It’s not cool to say that religion results in unnecessary death, but calling the President a “skinny ghetto crackhead,” as the MRC founder did live on national television, is totally fine. It’s Christian, even. God-like. Also…
This show is a good one. It’s about actual “family” and the hypocrisy of religion. The religious radicals’ reaction to it is a perfect example of that.
P.S.: I’m not an atheist. Just, ya’ know… f.y.i.
P.P.S.: One Million Moms doesn’t actually have anything to do with this show. And, as far as I know, they’ve never actually said anything about it. But they still deserve to suck a fat one. And, keeping it as real as them O’Neals: I just wanted to try my hand at clickbait.