One of the reasons I love watching ABC is the relateable family comedy. From The Middle, to Modern Family, and now The Real O’Neals. I haven’t missed an episode of what is a hilariously geniune look at family, and last week we gathered in the ABC cafeteria to chat with some of the cast of The Real O’Neals that airs at 8:30 PM ET on ABC every Tuesday!
(Thanks to Disney/ABC/Marvel for this all-expenses paid experience.)
Sitting in groups of 6 around lunch room style tables, we chatted like old friends with Noah Galvin (“Kenny”), Jay R. Ferguson (“Pat”), Matt Shively (“Jimmy”) and Mary Hollis Inboden (“Jodi”), and Executive Producers Casey Johnson, David Windsor, and Stacy Traub. You can bet there were as many laughs during the Q&A as there are during each episode of The Real O’Neals.
If you haven’t watched, The Real O’Neals follows a Catholic family with a gay son, another son who was an anorexic wrestling star, a klepto daughter who is wiser than her age, and parents who are getting divorced but dad still lives in the basement. Basically, a pretty normal family nowadays, but where did the idea of The Real O’Neals come from?
The first approach was two years ago from the network and studio, who had tried to develop an idea with Dan Savage. So it’s sort of very loosely based on his life being a gay kid, growing up in a Catholic family. We thought it’s kind of interesting, we liked the idea of a family show for ABC, who has all these really good family shows. That was the gem of it from upstairs in this building, and then I sort of took it and ran after that. – EP David Windsor
Every episode of The Real O’Neals covers a real topic that families are facing. From their child coming out, to telling friends and family their marriage is over, to father and son bonding while camping. The Real O’Neals is relevant and entertaining, without being offensive.
I think we always come out with what is real; what’s happening in people’s lives; the kid’s lives at that age; the grownups that are going through this heavy thing. You know, it’s kind of a fine line we’re walking because we’re dealing with a lot of sort of serious, heavy issues, but at the same time, we’re making a comedy, and so the authenticity of all of their problems, I think, makes the show more relatable to everybody. It also, in some weird way, makes it easier to write comedy for, because those awkward moments like divorce, and coming out, and all these things that are so uncomfortable often times are mined for a lot of comedy. Our goal is really just to make it as real as we can, and it’s part of the reason we made it the title. We didn’t wanna shy away from any of that stuff. – EP David Windsor
Because our staff is made up of lesbians and gay guys, and Catholics – we’re always checking. Like when you came out, what was your experience, and everyone’s got a different experience. Some people are like, oh, it was super easy; some people didn’t come out until they were thirty, and we’re just constantly checking in – does this feel real? If you were going on a date for the first time, we want it to be funny, but we don’t. We don’t wanna just guess, and what’s so lovely is that we have all these people with us who can tell us what the real thing is. – EP Stacy Traub
I have a 14 year old daughter and at least once every episode I think “that is totally a situation I have been in with my daughter!” I’m sure when my 10 year old son gets a few years older, I will be able to relate some of the Kenny and Jimmy stories to him. After all, some of these stories are coming straight from the crews lives.
Yeah, my daughter’s eleven, but she might as well be twenty. She’s very much like Shannon, and the episode, ‘The Real Man’ where Shannon’s sneaking off to go work at Wetzel’s Pretzels, that last scene with the two of them – it just really makes me feel like conversations I’ve had with my daughter where she’s kind of- maybe a little bit too smart for her age, and maybe too smart for me. We had a conversation the other day where she said something, and I said, you know, that wasn’t very nice. And she goes, well, I’m supposed to be not nice to you now, Mom. No, no, you don’t have to be. We get into these conversations, and we definitely, we all share. We have writers who are from Chicago; we have writers who are Catholic; we have writers who are gay; and everyon in the writer’s room is so lovely because it’s this safe place where everyone shares all these stories, and then we try and figure out if this experience works for this story. We want it to feel as real and honest as possible. – EP Stacy Traub
If you’ve been watching The Real O’Neals, you probably remember the ‘The Real Man’ episode the Stacy mentioned above. It is one of the funniest episodes, right after the Gay Toilet Cake scene, and became even funnier when I heard the story behind the Boy Battle that opens the episode.
Jay and Matt do a boy battle; that’s something my son and I do. I’m just in the room, like, ‘oh, and we do this silly thing. We wrestle and we have this elaborate introduction.’ but it’s so stupid. It’s fun and so we ended up doing that. But there’s always stuff from our lives that we like putting in, it just feels more authentic, you know? The stuff feels more real. – EP David Windsor
Now you know we couldn’t talk to Matt Shively without talking about Jimmy’s hair. Or should I say helmet….man I’m laughing all over again! Seriously, Matt Shively is one hilarious human being in general.
That was my mistake. Ask about the hair. That was the biggest mistake I’ve ever made. That is how I was doing my hair for awhile. It was shorter on the sides but, all my friends were doing it, so I was like, you know what? I’m gonna try this out. I thought it was cool to do that, and I did that, and then I realized that it was not cool, and they were like, but that’s one of the main reasons why we love you guys. – Matt Shively
Dang, your hair’s a thing. – Mary Hollis Inboden
I thought, all the entire first season, he’s just came out and he’s gay, and in the tag of the pilot, they say, what’s the worse thing, and he’s like, your hair. So I’m like, okay, they’re gonna change it, and they refused to change it. Give me a makeover episode where Kenny gives Jimmy a makeover. Low-key, if and when we come back for a second season, if they don’t change it, I’m gonna buzz my head. I’m dead serious. I can’t – that thing is a helmet. If you were to try and go against the grain, you’ll cut your hand, I swear to god. There’s so much product in that hair, I could leave it, it was really a helmet. – Matt Shively
I’ll never forget, there’s an episode where Matt’s, taking a shower; gotten out of the shower, and I came to set, and his hair was not his Jimmy helmet. And I was like, ‘you look good today, Matt.’ and he was like, ‘oh, just one scene.’ – Mary Hollis Inboden
They made it worse. We’ll fix you up, but you can’t have a shirt on, and I’m like, ‘I don’t like not having a shirt on.’ I have boobs on my back. I’m sitting there messing with my hair, and I watch the episode back, and it looks like I have a “B” cup. Guys, no, listen, they’ll change your hair, but you’re gonna show off that body. – Matt Shively
We’re so glad you did, too. – Mary Hollis Inboden
There’s a whole episode coming up where I pretend to be a cop, and they changed my hair. It’s crazy how different I look with different hair. We did it to resemble Jay’s hair because he’s the cop. I watched that episode a while ago, and I was like, can we do this every episode? Stop- I’m going bald because they put so much product in my hair. – Matt Shively
What makes the Matt Shively hair situation even funnier, is that we chatted with the Executive Producers after Matt and tried to rally for storyline that involved a new hairstyle! 😀
That’s funny. – EP Casey Johnson
That would be really funny. – EP Stacy Traub
But then he realizes he likes it back more, so he goes back to the old way. – EP David Windsor
That’d be a funny table read. – EP Stacy Traub
We should definitely do that, yeah. – EP Casey Johnson
In case you are like me and wonder if the hilarious Matt Shively has ever done any ad libs on the show, I got the answer!
The scene where I come in and I tell Kenny I love him, even though he’s gay, in front of the whole auditorium, I had this whole thing that they were like, okay, we got it, so just go have fun. So I was like, .”…and by the way I’m not gay still. Madison, remember that time we were at Catholic school, and we were under Sister Margaret’s desk making out, you said I looked…”, and I went on this whole two minute rant about it, and they ended up keeping the whole thing. – Matt Shively
And, they had to keep Madison because…[laughs] – Mary Hollis Inboden
Because I was flirting with her, and it was funny; but it was really cool because they were like, ‘let’s do it again’, and they did that a few times. But there’s a lot of times where I’ll do it the way they’ve written it a few times, and then they’ll just tell us to have fun, and I go out and say one or two things. – Matt Shively
It’s respectful to start with what they’ve given you, and we were all raised well by moms like you guys, so we do what they say first. Then we start to really party, you know, and sometimes – especially with me, they’re like, well we can’t use any of that. – Mary Hollis Inboden
I’m no good at ad lib, but I am good at eating cake! 😀 Ever since watching “The Real Grandma” episode of The Real O’Neals, I can’t stop talking about Gay Toilet Cake. Not only was it SO SO funny, it also looked like one delicious cake masterpiece. I tortured myself by asking Noah about said cake.
The cake. I was excited to eat that cake all week, I was so stoked, and then of course, me and Martha didn’t film the tag, which was us on the porch eating the cake, until 3:00am on Friday. It was after three meals, they brought in pizza for the first time ever, and I was like, YES. I went a little too hard on the pizza; but at 3:00am, they’re like, ‘now eat three slices of rainbow cake.’- Noah Galvin
Another one of my favorite scenes of The Real O’Neals is also in “The Real Grandma” episode. Seriously, that is one you have to watch if you haven’t. You will laugh so hard your face will hurt. The pickle scenes is the one I’m talking about, and it’s also a favorite of Jay R. Ferguson.
The grandmother’s line of the pickles having to be long, thick, and hard… – Jay R. Ferguson
Oh, yes, that was fantastic. – Noah Galvin
Oh, oh, and when she says ‘I’ll just borrow your panties’. [laughs] – Jay R. Ferguson
Remember the end of that scene, Jay, you used to have to go in and give her a kiss on the face? – Noah Galvin
Yeah, they cut a lot out of that scene. – Jay R. Ferguson
That was a really, really hard call. – Noah Galvin
I had a reflex when she says the line about the panties. I do a gag reflex, and that they cut out, and then at the end, I had to go in and kiss her. – Jay R Ferguson
It was really good. – Noah Galvin
I think they felt like they had pushed the envelope enough with that episode at that point. They didn’t need anymore. I mean, after long, thick, and hard, I mean, it is 8:30 on ABC….how much more can you push it? – Jay R. Ferguson
There are a million reasons to be watching The Real O’Neals on ABC at 8:30 PM ET on Tuesdays! I could go on and on but I will save the rest of the cast Q&A for my next post on May 3rd! I will say that I got the chance to screen tonight’s episode while in LA and this is one moms don’t want to miss! The things that are said during the book club are on point and will have you gasping, laughing, and saying “Go Girl!” all at the same time! 😀 Then add into that Kenny and Pat’s first trip to the gayborhood, and you may have the best episode yet!
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.
Tune into “The Real Book Club” episode of The Real O’Neals tonight on ABC tonight at 8:30 PM ET!