An upcoming show on ABC is raising some eyebrows for its rather bigoted portrayal of Catholicism.
The trailer for the Real O’Neals, which is apparently based on LGBT activist Dan Savage’s early life, opens up by describing the O’Neals as your “typical Irish-Catholic family.”
It turns out, according to this show, that a “typical” Irish-Catholic family includes a closeted gay son with a girlfriend who is clueless about how contraception works (despite, you know, being a high-school age student living in a major city in today’s world), a kleptomaniac sister, a jock older brother with an eating disorder, and parents who are going through a secret divorce. Also, the priest is portrayed as a hypocrite with a vow of poverty—and a Lexus.
Sounds like your normal everyday family, yes?
If this is actually how Dan Savage was raised, then yes, I feel for him. I’ll give the trailer points for some of its funnier moments, but it seems a bit cheap to rag on a religion that’s a relatively low-hanging fruit. (Call me crazy, but I just can't imagine ABC working with Ayaan Hirsi Ali to make a show based off of her life with a less-than-favorable portrayal of Islam.) Also, using an eating disorder as the laugh line of a joke seems especially distasteful.
We don’t need a sitcom to remind us that nobody—Irish-Catholic families and priests included—is perfect, and that we all sin and we all have faults. This trailer was a parade of Catholic stereotypes—some admittedly truer than others—that was engineered to sully public opinion on Catholicism and paint a picture of Catholics as clueless, backwards bigots. Given Savage's past comments on Christianity, it's hardly a stretch to say this is intended result of his TV show.
Either way, I won’t be watching The Real O’Neals this fall. Given that ABC’s show GBC (Good Christian B*****s) only lasted one season amidst considerable blowback from Christian women upset with the show, The Real O’Neals may face a similar fate.