Real O’Neals Renewed Despite Right-Wing Outcry

ABC has renewed The Real O’Neals, the sitcom about an Irish Catholic Chicago family with a gay son, for a second season despite the efforts of right-wing groups that had denounced the show as anti-Christian and excessively sexual.

One Million Moms, a project of the American Family Association (an anti-LGBT hate group), had urged sponsors to pull their advertising from the show because it “ridicules people of faith,” and the Catholic League had condemned the show even before it premiered in March, objecting particularly to gay journalist Dan Savage’s involvement.

The show is based partly on Savage’s life, and he is one of its executive producers. It depicts the effects of son Kenny’s coming-out on the family — it leads to the revelation of other secrets. Kenny is played by gay actor Noah Galvin.

Savage’s “maniacal hatred of Catholicism is so strong that it would be as though David Duke were hired to produce a show about African Americans,” said Catholic League president Bill Donohue in an ad in The New York Times in March. One Million Moms, for its part, called Savage an “anti-Christian bigot.”

Websites with a conservative slant did not react happily to the show’s renewal. Right-wing blog NewsBusters called it “vigilantly anti-Catholic” and objected to its “multiple liberal agendas including questioning why there are no female priests and showing two youngsters on a gay date.” Another far-right site, Christian Post, commented on its “sometimes explicit content, which often mocks Christianity, leaving both TV watchdogs and many Christian groups up in arms.”

One Million Moms has not offered a public comment on the renewal, but the Catholic League’s Donohue actually responded with equanimity. He issued a news release asserting that “the scripts were rarely of a blatantly anti-Catholic nature” and took credit for that. If the scripts appear more anti-Catholic next season, “we will gin up our efforts,” he said. He still denounced Savage, though, calling him “morally destitute, and relentlessly anti-Catholic.”

Matt Shively and Noah Galvin