Who knew religion could be so funny? The Real O’Neals is the latest sitcom on ABC’s schedule, and it’s truly hilarious. Loosely inspired by the upbringing of sex advice columnist Dan Savage, the show reveals what happens when a good Catholic family starts opening up about their secrets and dealing with their demons. And the most refreshing part? The sins of the O’Neal family are pretty relatable. Here are just a few of the issues tackled in tonight’s episodes.
1. Kenny and Mimi think about having sex
The Real O’Neals is told from the perspective of teenager Kenny, the middle child in a Catholic family. Shortly after he’s introduced in the premiere, we see Kenny’s first struggle: deciding whether or not to have sex with his girlfriend, Mimi. She’s the one pushing it, because she’s been turned on by his lack of aggression. The moment is one that’s likely familiar to many teenagers, because while Kenny wants to make Mimi happy, he’s just not sure if he can go through with intercourse. Part of his hesitation is because he fears his mother’s reaction — and the priest is right downstairs! But he’s also hesitating because…
2. Kenny comes out as gay
Kenny doesn’t like girls. He thinks that he can teach himself how to be straight by going through with Mimi’s plan, but it doesn’t work. He’s gay and, later in the pilot, he takes the biggest leap and tells his relatives. His siblings, Jimmy and Shannon, and his father, Pat, seem to be relatively supportive. His mother, Eileen, on the other hand? She’s taking the news hard. But Eileen has other things on her mind, too.
3. Eileen and Pat announce their divorce
Kenny’s parents got together because Eileen was pregnant with Jimmy. They’ve remained together to raise their three children, but whatever bond they once had is gone. Eileen, in particular, has been working hard to keep up appearances, but neither she nor Pat can deal with their unhappy marriage any longer. Their announcement sets off a chain of confessions throughout the rest of the family.
4. Jimmy confesses that he has an eating disorder
Oldest son Jimmy is a wrestling champion, and Eileen and Pat are hoping that he’ll earn a scholarship to Notre Dame. He’s battling his own issues, though. Keeping weight has made him lose weight, to the point where he’s become anorexic. Jesus-shaped pancakes appear to be helping to restore his appetite, but if Jimmy’s battle is anything like the ones of many eating disorder survivors, he’s got a long road ahead.
5. Shannon admits to stealing charity money
Shannon, the youngest in the O’Neal family, may have the weakest moral compass — her secret is that she’s a criminal. She’s been raising money to send to a charity in Africa, but she kept it all for herself and used it to buy a car. Not a car that she can drive, mind you — she’s too young to have a license. Didn’t stop the Craig’s List seller from letting her have it, though!
6. Eileen seeks revenge on the town gossips
After the O’Neal family secrets are revealed to everyone in attendance at church bingo night, Eileen faces the ridicule of her gossipy so-called friends. She doesn’t appreciate the pitying ham dishes left on her front stoop and she certainly doesn’t appreciate the rumors. So she plots to restore the family name by pressuring Shannon into winning her Catholic school science fair and pushing Kenny back into the closet.
7. Shannon reveals that she doesn’t believe in God
In perhaps The Real O’Neals‘ greatest moment of sacrilege yet, Shannon shocks the teachers at the science fair by discussing how her project proves that God doesn’t exist. Eileen may be more horrified by her daughter’s atheism than her son’s sexuality at this point! But after Shannon is shamed by the faculty, Eileen steps up to defend her, her project… and her gay brother, Kenny. Looks like things might be turning around for the O’Neals sooner than they think.