The Real O'Neals

TV review by
Kari Croop, Common Sense Media
The Real O'Neals TV Poster Image
Everyone has secrets in this challenging family comedy.

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 3 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Central messages include openness, honesty, and acceptance of who you are.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The main characters are far from perfect and muddle through their problems in predictably ridiculous ways. But once they start being more honest with each other, everyone benefits.


Teens talk about having sex (with condoms), and a central teen character grapples with the realization that he's gay; light kissing and sexual situations.


Audible words include "damn," "crap," "horny," "pissed," and the like; stronger words are bleeped for comedic effect.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some social drinking; jokes about smoking pot.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Real O'Neals centers on an Irish-Catholic family in the Chicago suburbs who begin airing their darkest secrets in the spirit of honesty: One son is anorexic, another son is gay, the daughter is a common criminal, and the parents are getting a divorce. Some strong language is bleeped for comedic effect, but you'll hear other words such as "hell," "pissed," "damn," "horny," and "crap." Characters also make jokes about premarital sex, teen pregnancy, and smoking pot, and one of the major plot points revolves around the middle child's realization that he'd rather hook up with guys than his own girlfriend.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bychrisd26 March 3, 2016

give them time to get moved in

i watched the premeire of this show last night and gotta say as a grown man i personally love it 'we are not catholic or irish but an american baptist fami... Continue reading
Adult Written byPositive1 April 17, 2016

A great film for those who promote hatred toward Catholic teachings, and the Church

This film mocks what is most sacred in the Catholic faith. It is what is most offensive to Catholics. Disney will not make a movie that is offensive to Jews,... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written by_malecxstydia_ January 4, 2017


I love this show, one of my fave actually! In it's first season the shows centers around an Irish Catholic family that hides some really dark secrets. When... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bySidestander December 31, 2016

Perfect, in my opinion.

I think that The Real O'Neals is a wonderful showing that we cannot always pick who we are in life, the layout of the show to me is just perfect showing th... Continue reading

What's the story?

Micromanaging mother of three Eileen O'Neal (Martha Plimpton) has big plans for her Irish-Catholic family, and she runs their lives accordingly. But as it turns out, THE REAL O'NEALS aren't as squeaky-clean as she wants everyone to think they are: Her oldest (Matt Shively) is an anorexic athlete, her middle child (Noah Galvin) is gay, her youngest (Bebe Wood) is a career criminal -- and as for the parents? Well, Eileen and her husband, Pat (Jay R. Ferguson), are getting a divorce. Looks like it's time to get real.

Is it any good?

This ABC sitcom's title suggests this is a clan you can really connect with, and on some levels, that's true. But fair warning: The O'Neals and their problems won’t feel relatable to every family. It's not that the action largely centers on the teen protagonist's realization that he's gay; that's actually a story line that's increasingly common. It's more that the family's Irish-Catholic quirks won't be as familiar -- or as funny -- to those viewers who haven't experienced them firsthand.

The series is based on the real-life experiences of writer and LGBT activist Dan Savage, who famously launched the "It Gets Better" project for gay teens and logs credits as the show's executive producer. But while Savage's own views on sex and religion have been labeled by some as controversial, this fictionalized take on his Catholic adolescence is surprisingly conventional when you strip it down to its core elements.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about The Real O'Neals' central messages of openness and honesty. How honest are you with your family, and how honest are your parents with you? What are the pros and cons of sharing earth-shattering secrets? Why is it so tempting to hide important truths from those we love?

  • How relatable are the O'Neals, and how do they measure up as role models? Do their problems appeal to a wide range of viewers? Who's the intended audience for this show?

  • How accurately does The Real O'Neals address the challenges of coming out as a gay teen in the 21st century? Does the sitcom format make too much light of a serious topic, or does it merely inject some humor into what can be a high-stress situation?

TV details

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