by Jean Bentley | Wed., Mar. 2, 2016 10:30 AM
They've got secrets and they most definitely can't keep them—in fact, said secrets blow up in the faces of every member of the O'Neal family in the series premiere of ABC's new sitcom, The Real O'Neals.
"I think what makes our show different from other family shows, they're not so much the outward things but the inward things," explains star Martha Plimpton, who plays the matriarch of a picture-perfect Irish Catholic family from Chicago in the new show, which premieres tonight.
Three kids, two church-going parents, what could go wrong? Oh, just about everything: The oldest son has an eating disorder, the middle son is gay, and oh yeah—the parents are getting a divorce.
"Really, the story kicks off when all of these family secrets explode," Plimpton continues. "And the biggest one, for Eileen, that her son Kenny is gay—Kenny's homosexuality is not the problem. The problem is other people's responses to it and whether or not they're going to grow and learn how to accept this new reality and really love it and whether they're going to be really fearful."
Explains Matt Shively, who plays eldest son Jimmy, "We touch on a lot of things that a lot of families have to deal with but nothing has ever been made to highlight those things."
The show was special enough to bring Plimpton back to television after the end of her Fox sitcom Raising Hope—again, playing the matriarch of a slightly dysfunctional family. Plimpton attributes that to her friendship with Dan Savage, the activist and author on whose life the show was loosely based.
"The thought of him asking me to even approximate a character like his mother, who is a very formidable and brilliant, funny, dedicated religious woman, was exciting to me," she says.
Press play on the video above to hear more from the cast (including Noah Galvin and Jay R. Ferguson) on their new series.
The Real O'Neals airs Wednesdays at 8:30 on ABC.