The (almost) Real O'Neals

The (almost) Real O'Neals

Emotional honesty is finally invading our TVs.

It would be marvelous if the world could be like most TV shows. It would be great if families could have moments of honesty with each other and seemingly resolve a major relationship conflict just through talking. It would be really nice if any person, regardless of gender, age, sexual orientation, race or religion could walk down the street without fear of being targeted by someone because of these traits. It would be a wonderful world if an LGBT teenager's life were made easier by coming out to his or her parents, instead of being made more complicated, as is often the case.

Television comedies usually fall into two categories. The first is with traditional, single-race family units that make jokes in a non-provocative way and rarely touch on controversial topics. The second usually involves several different controversial issues, but is not necessarily a good representation of real people's actual lives.

This second type of comedy show attempts to show a society in which voices are heard and people can coexist in the workplace or even the home, but the main problem is that we aren't there yet. Does anyone remember on Glee how Kurt Hummel's dad dealt with his son's coming out in roughly 3.6 seconds? It's nice for a show with such a young audience to show examples of tolerance, but how do people with a different story feel? How would a homeless trans-woman of color react to this story-line?

The problem is that we're not there yet.

This is why I love the new ABC series, The Real O'Neals. The format of the show looks pretty basic and "white-privelegy" at first glance, but for the following reasons, among others, I believe that this show is a different kind of comedy that television desperately needs.

1. Kenny's sexuality is more than a list of sexless stereotypes.

I don't know about you, but I have seen a lot of "gay" characters on comedy shows that don't seem to be very gay. The typical life of this kind of character usually includes a certain style of dress, talking with his hands and some form of Histrionic Personality Disorder.

While for a while it was necessary to show these types of characters for the sake of exposing the public to any aspect of the gay community, these characters now do more harm than good. They cut out the only real qualifier of a gay man: his homosexuality.

These characters on popular TV shows are seen working, interacting with friends and all the other things that Malibu Barbie does, but their romantic lives are often left out of the picture.

In the case of this show, however, Kenny's love life is laid out on the line. He goes on dates, develops a crush, deals with his first rejection, and does all the things that teenagers go through. If society wants to be more open-minded and accepting of the LGBT community, they need to see the fact that the members of that community are nothing more than regular people with a lot of the same problems that everyone else faces.

2. This show depicts the struggle on both sides of the coming-out process.

When dealing with a gay character's coming-out in a typical sitcom, the parents usually have a struggle that lasts one or two episodes, sometimes less. For so many LGBT youths, this is far from the truth. The coming-out process is difficult for many families and can take a long time.

Kenny's coming-out on this show is still a bit hurried when compared to a real-life scenario, but what I appreciate about this show is that it shows the struggle and the difficulty that families face as well. In this series, we see his siblings ask uncomfortable questions, his father try to relate to him, and his mother dealing with a crisis between her faith and the love she has for her son.

Eileen's viewpoint is one that is not portrayed with enough sympathy. It is important that we support those in the LGBT community during their coming-out, but it is also crucial that people be sensitive and empathetic to those on the other side of a coming-out. It can be an enormous challenge for one to reevaluate his or her faith, and I appreciate getting to see Eileen O'Neal's journey.

3. The show draws attention to emotional dishonesty within Christianity.

I have seen quite a few people disgruntled with the show's handling of the topic of religion. They claim that the characters' lives are based too much in stereotypes about Irish-Catholic families.

I am not Catholic, so I can't fully understand this viewpoint, but I am a Christian so I understand the desperate need for increased levels of emotional honesty within the church.

Conversations between parishioners and other church-goers are far too often loaded with subtext and passive-aggression. People feel that they must always be experiencing "the Joy of the Lord," or else they are not "good Christians." Just like Pat points out in the pilot, it is time that Christian families started talking about their issues and being emotionally honest with one another.

It is this type of emotional honesty that makes this show refreshing. As time goes by, Millennials have increasing levels of disdain for organized religion. I believe that part of this is due to many people within the church paying far too much attention to appearances.

"The Real O'Neals" is not exactly like a real family. It is a bit stereotypical and is by no means a perfect show, but I have found something in this show that I have been missing in television. I have found a voice telling people that it is OK not to be perfect; it is OK not to have it all together. We can appreciate ourselves and our loved ones, flaws and all, and hopefully all become a little more "real" in the process.

Cover Image Credit: Zolo Media

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8 Reasons Why My Dad Is the Most Important Man In My Life

Forever my number one guy.

Growing up, there's been one consistent man I can always count on, my father. In any aspect of my life, my dad has always been there, showing me unconditional love and respect every day. No matter what, I know that my dad will always be the most important man in my life for many reasons.

1. He has always been there.

Literally. From the day I was born until today, I have never not been able to count on my dad to be there for me, uplift me and be the best dad he can be.

2. He learned to adapt and suffer through girly trends to make me happy.

I'm sure when my dad was younger and pictured his future, he didn't think about the Barbie pretend pageants, dressing up as a princess, perfecting my pigtails and enduring other countless girly events. My dad never turned me down when I wanted to play a game, no matter what and was always willing to help me pick out cute outfits and do my hair before preschool.

3. He sends the cutest texts.

Random text messages since I have gotten my own cell phone have always come my way from my dad. Those randoms "I love you so much" and "I am so proud of you" never fail to make me smile, and I can always count on my dad for an adorable text message when I'm feeling down.

4. He taught me how to be brave.

When I needed to learn how to swim, he threw me in the pool. When I needed to learn how to ride a bike, he went alongside me and made sure I didn't fall too badly. When I needed to learn how to drive, he was there next to me, making sure I didn't crash.

5. He encourages me to best the best I can be.

My dad sees the best in me, no matter how much I fail. He's always there to support me and turn my failures into successes. He can sit on the phone with me for hours, talking future career stuff and listening to me lay out my future plans and goals. He wants the absolute best for me, and no is never an option, he is always willing to do whatever it takes to get me where I need to be.

6. He gets sentimental way too often, but it's cute.

Whether you're sitting down at the kitchen table, reminiscing about your childhood, or that one song comes on that your dad insists you will dance to together on your wedding day, your dad's emotions often come out in the cutest possible way, forever reminding you how loved you are.

7. He supports you, emotionally and financially.

Need to vent about a guy in your life that isn't treating you well? My dad is there. Need some extra cash to help fund spring break? He's there for that, too.

8. He shows me how I should be treated.

Yes, my dad treats me like a princess, and I don't expect every guy I meet to wait on me hand and foot, but I do expect respect, and that's exactly what my dad showed I deserve. From the way he loves, admires, and respects me, he shows me that there are guys out there who will one day come along and treat me like that. My dad always advises me to not put up with less than I deserve and assures me that the right guy will come along one day.

For these reasons and more, my dad will forever be my No. 1 man. I love you!

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From One Nerd To Another

My contemplation of the complexities between different forms of art.


Aside from reading Guy Harrison's guide to eliminating scientific ignorance called, "At Least Know This: Essential Science to Enhance Your Life" and, "The Breakthrough: Immunotherapy and the Race to Cure Cancer" by Charles Graeber, an informative and emotional historical account explaining the potential use of our own immune systems to cure cancer, I read articles and worked on my own writing in order to keep learning while enjoying my winter break back in December. I also took a trip to the Guggenheim Museum.

I wish I was artistic. Generally, I walk through museums in awe of what artists can do. The colors and dainty details simultaneously inspire me and remind me of what little talent I posses holding a paintbrush. Walking through the Guggenheim was no exception. Most of the pieces are done by Hilma af Klint, a 20th-century Swedish artist expressing her beliefs and curiosity about the universe through her abstract painting. I was mostly at the exhibit to appease my mom (a K - 8th-grade art teacher), but as we continued to look at each piece and read their descriptions, I slowly began to appreciate them and their underlying meanings.

I like writing that integrates symbols, double meanings, and metaphors into its message because I think that the best works of art are the ones that have to be sought after. If the writer simply tells you exactly what they were thinking and how their words should be interpreted, there's no room for imagination. An unpopular opinion in high school was that reading "The Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne was fun. Well, I thought it was. At the beginning of the book, there's a scene where Hawthorne describes a wild rosebush that sits just outside of the community prison. As you read, you are free to decide whether it's an image of morality, the last taste of freedom and natural beauty for criminals walking toward their doom, or a symbol of the relationship between the Puritans with their prison-like expectations and Hester, the main character, who blossoms into herself throughout the novel. Whichever one you think it is doesn't matter, the point is that the rosebush can symbolize whatever you want it to. It's the same with paintings - they can be interpreted however you want them to be.

As we walked through the building, its spiral design leading us further and further upwards, we were able to catch glimpses of af Klint's life through the strokes of her brush. My favorite of her collections was one titled, "Evolution." As a science nerd myself, the idea that the story of our existence was being incorporated into art intrigued me. One piece represented the eras of geological time through her use of spirals and snails colored abstractly. She clued you into the story she was telling by using different colors and tones to represent different periods. It felt like reading "The Scarlet Letter" and my biology textbook at the same time. Maybe that sounds like the worst thing ever, but to me it was heaven. Art isn't just art and science isn't just science. Aspects of different studies coexist and join together to form something amazing that will speak to even the most untalented patron walking through the museum halls.

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