The Kids Are Alright – But This Show Isn’t

Written by PTC | Published September 12, 2018

The Kids Are Alright ABC reboots The Real O’Neals – without the gay son. In the turbulent decade of the 1970s, the traditional working-class Irish-Catholic Cleary family, tries to navigate the challenges coming their way. Overwhelmed with eight boisterous sons, Mike and Peggy Cleary try to raise their brood with traditional values – an attempt made even more difficult when oldest son Lawrence returns from the seminary and announces he is abandoning his studies for the priesthood so that he can "save the world." Written and produced by The Real O’Neals consulting producer Tim Doyle, The Kids Are Alright is basically The Real O’Neals redux, just set several decades earlier (capitalizing on the popularity of The Goldbergs) and with more sons. Even most of the characters line up with those from Doyle’s earlier work: The Kids Are Alright features the same pushy, overbearing, judgmental mom (she even looks like the mom from The Real O’Neals), the weary, indifferent, blue-collar father, the same doofus older brother, and the same younger brother who is out of step with his family’s traditional masculine interests (he even loves show tunes!) Despite the rise of radical politics which split the Democrats (the traditional party of Irish Catholics) in the 1970s, Doyle claims that politics won’t be central to the program – a claim belied by the “fake news” joke included in the first episode. Indeed, it’s difficult to imagine a program set in the 1970s not addressing the political concerns of that era. Doyle also claims that the program will be “very respectful” of Catholicism, and won’t be “satirizing or mocking it in any kind of way”…yet this ill comports with the basic premise being a seminarian ditching the priesthood to become a hippie. If this show is anything like The Real O’Neals, a satirical portrayal of Catholicism will be de rigueur. Finally, Doyle claims The Kids Are Alright will be unlike The Real O’Neals in that a gay child won’t be included…or not at first. “It’s not a coming-out story. That’s not part of our immediate plans,” Doyle said. Sadly, despite ABC’s alleged commitment to “diversity,” it is clear that with The Middle now concluded, an ABC family comedy that will treat religious working-class families with a modicum of respect is is also gone…and it certainly isn’t being replaced by Doyle’s Real O’Neals reboot. As The Hollywood Reporter’s Daniel Fienberg put it, “Of all of ABC's ABC-y shows, this is easily the ABC-iest.” The Kids Are Alright premieres Tuesday, October 16 on ABC.

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