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Series / The Real O'Neals

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The Real O'Neals was an ABC sitcom than ran for two seasons from 2016-2017. The close-knit, Chicago-based O'Neals seem to be the perfect Catholic family, but when surprising truths come to light, some lives take an unexpected turn. The middle son Kenny comes out as gay, and his parents Eileen and Pat are getting a divorce. The show deals with the fallout from these decisions, as well as the shenanigans of Kenny's two siblings Jimmy and Shannon.



  • Aborted Arc: The revelation that Jimmy is struggling with anorexia is seemingly dropped after the first few episodes without any real resolution. This is probably deceptive because eating disorders tend to be very secretive and have a lot of ups and downs. Jimmy obviously still is quite obsessive with food.
  • Amicable Exes: Pat and Eileen are awkwardly maneuvering for this.
  • Awkward Father-Son Bonding Activity: In one episode Pat takes Kenny and Jimmy camping. Kenny obviously isn't too fond of it. He finds out later that Jimmy didn't want to go either, as he didn't want to reveal to Pat that he was quitting wrestling.
  • Basement-Dweller: While the divorce is finalized, Pat is living in the basement.
  • The Beard: Kenny's ex-girlfriend Mimi.
  • Camp Gay: Obviously Gay Stuart, the only other gay student at Kenny's school, who also happens to be dating a girl. By the end of the school year everyone's thinking he might actually be Camp Straight. He comes out less than five minutes later.
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  • Club Stub: Kenny starts an LGBT club at school, but the only other member to join is Alisson.
  • Coming-Out Story: When Kenny comes out, most of his friends and family members are supportive, and he doesn't face a lot of challenges for it. When Allison is introduced in Season 2, it's pointed out that since she comes from a fairly conservative Asian family, she doesn't have any guarantee that coming out to her parents would work out nearly as well as it did for Kenny. The reality is, as far as the LGBTQ community has come in the United States, homophobia is still very much alive.
  • Dumb Jock: Jimmy, to the point where Pat encourages him to stick with wrestling because that's the only way he'll get into college.
  • Emotionless Girl: Alisson, the lesbian member of the LGBT society.
  • First-Episode Twist: Kenny being gay was in the promotional material for the show, however Pat and Eileen's divorce was not.
  • Good Angel, Bad Angel: Kenny's are Jesus and Maleficent, respectively.
  • Holier Than Thou: Eileen, who is shown to be so Catholic that she keeps a Virgin Mary in the bathroom to watch over them.
    • Though she comes off as outright Unitarian in comparison to her mother.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Each episode follows the format of "The Real (blank)".
  • It's All About Me: Averted in "The Real Move". In the episode, Kenny and his gayness take a back seat to his parent's divorce. Becomes a Running Gag with people repeatedly telling him, "It's not all about you being gay Kenny." Kenny even starts to lampshade it:
    Father Bernard: Not everything's about you being gay son.
    Kenny O'Neal: I know but I keep trying to wedge it in there.
  • Imagine Spot: Kenny has these quite often. He lampshades it in the first season finale when his crush Sebastian asks him to dance during an ABBA song at prom, just like Kenny imagined at the beginning of the episode.
    Kenny: Is this really happening? Because sometimes I hallucinate.
  • Little Miss Con Artist: Shannon. Her revelation in the pilot episode is that she was keeping the money she was raising for charity for herself and bought a car.
  • Mama's Boy: Kenny was definitely this, his coming out damaged their relationship but they eventually manage to heal the rift for the most part.
  • Middle Child Syndrome: Inverted, before he came out, Kenny was the favourite child and seems to be the most normal of the bunch, with Jimmy not being too smart and Shannon being somewhat strange.
    • There are some times where this comes into play, though Kenny seems to find these points a time of relief.
  • My Beloved Smother: Eileen. One episode features Kenny spending more time with the mother of the child he's tutoring because she's more free-spirited.
  • Obnoxious In-Laws: Averted with Jodi, She and Pat enjoy a good relationship despite being his ex-sister-in-law. She is also Eileen's best (and only real) friend.
  • One-Steve Limit: Jimmy beats up Kenny Lee, believing he called his brother the F word, when actually Kenny O'Neal called himself it.
  • Prom Is for Straight Kids: Averted. Kenny is prepared to fight for his right to take a male date to Prom at his school, but finds that they've already discussed and approved it much earlier. The problem then shifts to the fact that Kenny is the only gay kid at the school, which means he doesn't actually have a guy to take in the first place.
  • Racist Grandma: Eileen's mom, Agnes. We first hear her refusing to tip a Latino taxi driver.
  • Real Fake Wedding: A variant occurs in the episode where Kenny gets cast as the lead in his school's production of Romeo and Juliet. Eileen gets too into planning the wedding scene of the play, making it seem like a real wedding. When Kenny confronts her about it, she says it's because he'll never have a traditional wedding like she always dreamed of.
  • St. Patrick's Day Episode: During "The Real Lent," which takes place around St. Patrick's Day, Eileen reminds her family that it's Lent and asks them to give up things they really love. In a chance meeting, Kenny meets his first gay crush, and Pat discovers his little girl, Shannon, is all grown up.
  • Transparent Closet: Kenny. In retrospect a lot of the other characters realize this is true. There is also Obviously Gay Stuart, another student at Kenny's Catholic high school that is even deeper in the closet (until the end of season 1).
  • The Twink: Kenny fits the type in age and inexperience, but since he's still underage and is more awkward than naïve, he's still not a full-blown example.
  • Where Everybody Knows Your Flame: Subverted. Kenny, being under 21, mostly hangs out in a calm yet friendly gay coffee shop.
  • Yaoi Fangirl: The school's attempt to create a gay-straight alliance resulted in three of these accosting Kenny. Needless to say, he flees immediately.
  • Wallpaper Camouflage: Allison wears drab brown clothes that often make her blend with wood paneling, making her unnoticeable.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Jimmy's revelation in the pilot is that he has anorexia, but it's never brought up in the series again.Unless you notice some subtile signs that Jimmy can be obsessive about food and snacks on ice cubes.