The Real O’Neals Executive Producers Interviews
Last week during the #CaptainAmericaEvent we had the opportunity to screen two episodes of The Real O’Neals and chat with the executive producers and some cast members from the show. During the trip we screened two episodes including tonight’s episode “The Real Book Club”. I started watching the show once I learned it was on our agenda,and I became an immediate fan, it’s hilarious and they really do keep it real.
THE REAL O’NEALS – “The Real Book Club” – 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, on “The Real O’Neals,” TUESDAY, APRIL 19 (8:30-9:00 p.m. EDT), on the ABC Television Network. (ABC/Vivian Zink)
After screening the two episodes we headed down to the ABC cafeteria and split into three different groups, then the cast and EPs rotated in and out. I couldn’t wait to ask about some of my favorite episodes of the show, and talk to Mary Hollis Inboden who play Aunt Jodie on the show. She’s my favorite character on the whole show.
The Real Book Club episode has two key things happening at the same time, first we see Kenny played by Noah Galvin looking for a place to fit in, that’s when he goes on a search to find his own community. While Eileen played by Martha Plimpton was having trouble with her book club. It’s another episode that you could relate to on different levels. We’ve all been through that phase of wanting to fit in and find your place in the world. When talking to the Executive Producers about the show, we learned that all three were parents, married, and share show running duties for the show.
The first thing we asked, was if the show is based on somebody Casey Johnson and David Windsor knew, they wrote the pilot episode first and once it was picked up by ABC, they brought in Stacy Traub to help them with running the show.
Casey Johnson: Originally the original like spark of the idea was based on Dan Savage’s life, I don’t know if you’re familiar with him yeah Jacob’s Ladder and Savage Law. So he grew up in Chicago in an Irish Catholic family and was gay, so we took that idea and expanded it into this show. And then kind of started folding in all of our experiences, we had an amazing staff of writers, a lot of whom were gay.
We just wanted to be an impact, like we wanted to be as authentic as we could, so we were very careful at putting together that staff. So I mean there are many things – Stacy is divorced, David grew up with two gay dads, so this issue has always been really important to him and to us. We kind of fold in our own personal experience.
When you’re talking about an Irish family, being Catholic, and you add in a gay person, you can imagine it can be controversial. I’ve only seen people say they loved the show, and if anyone had anything bad to say it was mostly to say they had never seen it before, or they were not planning on watching. Still we wanted to know if the EPs had receive any negative feedback.
Stacy Traub : We feel like most of the negative has been from people who haven’t really watched the show but just know what it’s about or have gone in wanting to hate it. But, you know, if you, if you believe tweets, which I do and I’ve been watching the live tweeting every week, the response has been so positive and lovely, like kids seeing themselves in the Kenny character, Moms seeing themselves like oh I had that, or, a lot of- it’s interesting. I think a lot of moms have a daughter like Shannon.
Like that smart girl and I know I had that. So they’ll respond, you know, like oh man I just had a conversation like that with my daughter and I’ll be like yeah me too. You know, so I feel like people who are open minded and like willing to see it for what it is have been really enjoying it.
The cast of The Real O’Neals really come together like a family. They all come together when they are in LA and live tweet with Jay at his house. They spend time together off set, and during the holidays they all made sure to connect with each other despite spending it with their real life families. David shared with us how amazing it has been working this this cast.
Finding the entire cast took a really long time. But we were lucky enough, Martha and Jay signed on right away so then we found out that Noah who is living in New York and we have been reading a lot in the process. We saw him and suddenly we within a minute or two we sort of knew that- he was our missing piece, so a lot of the show revolves around him.
It’s rare that you get that when you’re in a show, you know, there’s usually strengths and weaknesses but we found early on that they’re all so good. And we could pair them off in secret arrangements and groups. And have them carry their own story, because they’re just an amazingly talented group of actors.
If you’re not watching the show you really are missing out, and according to David, I’m not the only person who came to show unexpectedly and end up loving it.
David Windsor : Yeah I mean there’s been a lot of those, on Twitter especially, a lot of people say I wasn’t excited about the show but I recognized someone in my family. Or that’s me. Or it’s making me laugh. I mean, it’s been happening more and more.
Casey Johnson : There was a review just last week where the guy said, I went into this skeptical, with skepticism, but after watching a couple episodes, I fell for it. I think we did have to win a few people over. We’ve also gotten some tweets from some kids who have said I’ve just watched the show and decided to come out to my parents. Which is really-really gratifying for us, because that was kind of beyond what we saw as the opportunity for story and comedy, we thought this is a show that could help some people.
If you think you can’t relate to this show, let me be the first to say that’s the furthest from the truth. Really we all can relate to the show in some way.
Casey Johnson : Well I mean I’m Jewish and I relate, like a controlling mother is a controlling mother, it doesn’t matter what religion you are. So what I think is interesting about them being Catholic is it does make it more difficult what’s happening to all of them. The same thing as like my daughter who’s eleven loves the show.. I think kids can also watch this show and see themselves in this character because he’s just- he’s a kid who’s trying to figure himself out, figure out who he is in the world.
Finally we wanted to know which episode were their favorites. They all said it was hard to pick one at first but after a little pulling we got them each to share with us some of their favorite ones that’s aired before and one that’s upcoming.
David Windsor : I got “The Real Grandma” for me it was nice seeing sort of the other side of Eileen standing up for her son and finding out where she’s come from and why she is the way she is. Frances plays that so amazing, I really like that episode. We have a few coming up that are also really- a Prom episode, that the three of us wrote. Which is really fun.
Stacy Traub : So what’s the one, the camping episode “The Real Man”, I love the story of Eileen and Shannon the mother daughter, that really- the way the episodes I love them all.
Casey Johnson : I really love “The Real F Word” that one for me was just the uncomfortable comedy of it, I loved. That and Stacy wrote that episode.
Stacy Traub : It’s great for me to watch them now because when you’re in it and you’re like writing them and shooting them editing them, it’s like you can’t see them straight, I’m listening to the bird chirping outside the building like oh is that too loud, like you get into the itty bitty details of it. Now we’ve had time, since we’ve finished shooting I love- it’s so fun to like watch them again and you’re like oh- because like they’re new and I sit and I watch them with the kids.
The Real O’Neals airs Tuesdays at 8:30|7:30c on ABC, be sure to tune in and get real personal with this hilarious and likable family. Be sure to live tweet with the cast during the show to share all your emotions about the episode. Learn more about The Real O’Neals by visiting them online, and following along on social media with the hashtag #TheRealONeals. Be sure to check back next week to read my interview with cast members Noah Galvin, Jay R. Rerguson, Matt Shively, and Mary Hollis Inboden.
Get Social with The Real O’Neals
NOAH GALVIN (“Kenny”) – @Noahegalvin
JAY R. FERGUSON (“Pat”) – @jrfergjr
MATT SHIVELY (“Jimmy”) – @MattShively1
MARY HOLLIS INBODEN (“Jodi”) – @maryhollis
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER CASEY JOHNSON – @trocaseyjohnson
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER DAVID WINDSOR – @dvindsor789
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER STACY TRAUB – @stoocytroob
Disclosure: I attended an all expenses paid press trip to LA with Disney and ABC Television. Any opinions expressed are my own.