The Real Goodbye

Well, the only gay-themed network sitcom got the axe last week, as ABC cancelled The Real O’Neals after its sophomore season. I didn’t find TRO a groundbreaking sitcom or really even a terrific piece of entertainment, but we have so few outlets for LGBT inclusion in mainstream entertainment these days, I felt compelled to watch.


Martha Plimpton, Jay R. Ferguson, Noah Galvin, Matthew Shively and Bebe Wood were the O’Neal family, a Chicago-based Roman Catholic brood based loosely on the teenage years of Dan Savage. | Image: ABC

What I found was that it was a series with some flaws, but it also had heart. The actors, directors and producers seemed to genuinely care about the series and they didn’t do a lot of corner-cutting. They did challenge some sitcom norms, but at the same time, they did fall back into some annoying sitcom tropes from time to time. I’m not sure who to fault here, but my bet would be the network.


Many out guest stars appeared on TRO, often in one of main character Kenny’s fantasies, including Robbie Rogers and Gus Kenworthy as themselves, urging Kenny on compete on the school wrestling team in season two. | Image: ABC

I liked young Noah Galvin, who played main character Kenny O’Neal, the middle child who comes out in the pilot episode. He and TV-siblings Jimmy and Shannon (Matthew Shively and Bebe Wood) had terrific chemistry and their characters and relationships developed early on.

The ensemble was anchored by the always-stellar Martha Plimpton as Eileen, the very Catholic mom who gets a divorce and then begins an inappropriate relationship with her children’s vice principal, played to a lunatic fare-the-well by Matt Oberg.

The writers seemed not to know what to do with Dad after season one and, consequently, Jay R. Ferguson, always a rock-solid performer since his own days as a child actor, was sadly wasted as was Mary Hollis Inboden as wacky Aunt Jackie.


Sean Grandillo (l) played Kenny’s first “real” boyfriend in a multi-episode story arc in the second season of TRO. | Image: Variety

Sensing what was coming, the writers buttoned up the series nicely, but I’m sorry to see it go. Given the tenor of the times, I suppose I should be grateful that ABC stuck with it for two seasons (well, two half-seasons), but I want more. I want young LGBT kids to see much, much more of themselves reflected back on TV than my generation did. I fear we’re never going to get there.

Here’s some cute bits from TRO, courtesy of NewNowNext:

Source: The 15 Gayest Moments On “The Real O’Neals” | NewNowNext

How “Husbands” Predicted The Future For Gay Marriage And Digital Hollywood

How “Husbands” Predicted The Future For Gay Marriage And Digital Hollywood.

Fortunately, Husbands has not had to worry about suffering from performance issues. When Bell and Espenson launched it two years ago as a web series on YouTube, it won a rave from no less than The New Yorker, and generated enough of a passionate fan base that the duo was able to raise $60,000 on Kickstarter for a second season. That season, which debuted on YouTube last year, saw a roughly 35% boost in viewership. “Everybody has access to the ability to make their own product now,” says Espenson. “It really is ‘the best will thrive.’ Like, whole networks are set up to guess what people are going to like. You don’t have to guess anymore. You can put it up and see what they like. That’s what we did. And they liked us.”

Excellent article and interview with Bell, Espenson and Hemeon about the impact of Husbands and finding new venues for content.


Husbands’ co-star Sean Hemeon is flanked by series co-creators Brad Bell and Jane Espenson at the 2013 Entertainment Weekly San Diego Comic Con party. The much-lauded marriage equality series centers on Hemeon and Bell, who play a hilarious mismatched married couple in the crisply written show. | Image: Chelsea Lauren/WireImage.

It’s very interesting to me that the trio no longer use the phrase “Web series” to describe the show, now beginning its third season (and this time on CW Seed, the companion site to the broadcast network), but rather simply call it a “series.”

I think they are right — and it’s very interesting to see language and usage change — sometimes practically overnight.

Says Espenson: “There’s nothing on YouTube that you can’t see on your smart TV. There’s nothing on TV, essentially, that you can’t find online in some form. So [saying “Web series” is] like saying, “I heard a radio song” vs. “a CD song!” Well, what’s the difference? You can get it either place.

I’ll have to start checking myself.

Meanwhile, you can watch — please do; it’s terrific!! — the new season of Husbands on CW Seed.

Watch the first two seasons and some behind-the-scenes videos HERE.

Read some of the Husbands-related posts I’ve made over the last year HERE, HERE, and HERE.

The Persistent Cult of Arrested Development

The Persistent Cult of Arrested Development — Vulture.

Jessica Walter in a classic Lucille Bluth moment on Arrested Development. “The drive-by outburst wasn’t an ad lib. “The wink was mine. Whore was not. That was our genius writers,” Walter said in an article on classic Lucille GIFs by Vulture’s Denise Martin.

Here comes “Arrested Development” again. A lot of people could care less, I assume, but there are some that feel like Will Leitch who wrote this excellent in-depth article on Vulture.

The resurrection is the direct result of the happy-go-tireless advocacy of a small but rabid group of superfans who have become, over the seven years since the show went off the air, a kind of cult—the best kind of cult. Amazingly, ­executives have actually listened to us, even thinking it was good business sense to do so. 

Netflix is releasing the entire new season (the first since 2006) of 15 episodes on May 26 for streaming. A whole lot of TV nerds (me, included, I suppose!) will be giddily streaming away watching one of the oddest, smartest and most demented TV series ever created. The new series will be dissected in minute detail by Bluthites, so there’s no reason for me to think of anything pithy to say about it all in advance.

Looking back, I’m not sure that there was a more sublimely ridiculous TV moment than this one, rendered in kinetic typography: