Critical Condition: The Real O’Neals

The Real O’Neals (TV2, 8.00 Tuesday)

“For years, ABC has been the home of the gently quirky family comedy, with each entry putting some new tilt on the nuclear unit: Modern Family, The Middle, Black-ish, The Goldbergs. The latest addition to that crop of shows is The Real O’Neals, in which a seemingly perfect Catholic family in Chicago have their lives upturned by a series of shocking revelations in the pilot episode. This is a show dealing with darker issues than its network brethren, but presented in the same bouncy, upbeat style. It’s a weird clash of tone that shouldn’t really work, but somehow does …  Like The Middle or The Goldbergs, the show is a sunny, single-camera comedy with occasional flights of fancy, but like Black-ish, it’s not afraid to go after tougher issues in a funny way.” — The Atlantic.

The Real O’Neals [is] most easily reduced to The Catholic Goldbergs. Of the ABC comedies, The Goldbergs took the longest to settle into its voice and rhythms for me … So I’m not worried that through four episodes, The Real O’Neals hasn’t entirely clicked either. The early installments suffer from a surplus of voices, a surfeit of refined characters and clumsy plot mechanics, but the third and particularly the fourth episode, titled The Real F Word, speak to a show that’s finding its perspective and beginning to properly utilise what is a very good cast.” — The Hollywood Reporter.

The Real O’Neals wants desperately to be the brash new sitcom that talks forthrightly about subjects that had been taboo. And a decade or two ago it might have been. Now, though, it’s just the guest who arrives late to the party, blundering in loudly and clumsily. The series gives us an Irish-Catholic family of five in Chicago. Each member has been living a lie of one sort or another. By the end of the premiere, through a series of circumstances that are supposed to be madcap but mostly just strain for laughs, everyone’s facade has come down and the family members face a future of living with one another as they really are.” — New York Times.

“There are some funny moments in the four episodes made available for preview, and the performances are strong enough to give one hope that those moments might eventually become more frequent, and tied to a stronger show. But for now, O’Neals is hitting a few too many false notes, and hitting them far too strongly. And that’s a real problem.” — USA Today.

“There is nothing ‘real’ about The Real O’Neals. Or anything funny. A witless collection of offensive anti-Catholic cliches, the new ABC series takes a talented cast and saddles it with some of the worst material in ages. If The Real O’Neals went to confession, a thousand Hail Marys wouldn’t be penance enough.” — New York Post.

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