ABC’s New Aggressively Anti-Catholic (and Unfunny) Prime-Time Sitcom

For years the film industry has loved to use the richness of Catholicism to enhance story lines in movies and television shows. They love using our architecture, confessionals, rosaries, cassocks, and prayers because they offer so much sensory recognition and drama. These are the same reasons Catholics are so ripe for slapstick which admittedly can be funny. However, as America rapidly moves into an era of declining Christianity and increased secularism, we see our pop culture presence reduced nearly exclusively to cheap laughs and even flat out bigotry.12495246_577609905722089_8947901277441556255_n

ABC has decided to double down on this anti-Christian narrative by working with the openly vulgar and outwardly hostile-to-the-Church activist Dan Savage. The show ABC and Mr. Savage have created is called The Real O’Neals which features an Irish-Catholic family of five. Judging by the show’s trailer, everyone from the priest all the way to the little girl of the family are selfish hypocrites. Citing hypocrisy among some Catholics isn’t that big of a problem–it exists and can be humorous. The issue is that it portrays the problem to be with Catholicism rather than flawed individual characters. But perhaps I’m overthinking this already. It’s hard to be personally offended at such a stupid show, doomed for cancellation. But it’s also hard to ignore the glaring double standard of Hollywood and our culture at large. Honestly, what other religion would it be acceptable to ridicule on prime time on a Disney-owned network station? So it’s the principle, not the pathetic content, that makes this offensive.

The priest gets called out for driving a Lexus instead of donating to charity. The little girl running the charity is stealing the money. The mom is overly-pious and shallow, trying to force people to believe in God and making her children Jesus pancakes. The father is a doofus cop that shuts down on important issues effecting his family. One child is secretly anorexic and the main character–supposedly Mr. Savage as a teen–just came out as gay while his girlfriend is pressuring him to pressure her to have sex with her using her 48-pack of condoms. The anti-intellectual, socially conservative parents are more shocked by their son being gay than the other two children’s problems. There’s also a statue of the Virgin Mary in the bathroom to remind the kids to keep the toilet seat down! Just your typical wacky Catholic family, right!?

I think most shows should be fair game for entertainment. However, there’s a difference between shows that are appropriate for HBO and Netflix and shows that are on free, prime time television, and are packaged as a family friendly comedy. Shame on ABC.

Contact ABC with your thoughts here.

Fun Fact: Only family that still goes to church regularly is the Simpsons! Funny how that used to be the edgy and “inappropriate” show for kids.

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27 thoughts on “ABC’s New Aggressively Anti-Catholic (and Unfunny) Prime-Time Sitcom

  1. Now if ABC could only spoof a Muslim family…NOT! They attack Catholicism because we are fair game – if they treated Muslims the way they treat Catholics they would become targets for death. Hypocrites and cowards they are.

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  2. I think your article was well written and a pretty fair analysis. I also think it’s fruitless to worry about shows like this. For the most part they are harmless even if they are irritating. Most critically thinking people know that it’s satire and that it overplays stereotypes. The only people who get really mad about it are people who usually get mad about everything they don’t like–which is usually an awful lot of things. As a 63-year old lifetime Catholic, shows like this are the least of my worries. At least shows like this are not lampooning and criticizing the things the Church could and should be criticized for. What if “The Real O’Neals” showed the priest as a pedophile, or the gay son who was supposedly going straight to hell, the mother as subservient, barefoot, and pregnant, or the father as an abusive drunk? I think we make too much out of little things and get too angry, perhaps, because our faith is not really as strong as we think it is. Extreme, judgmental, angry Christians (Catholic and not) have done more harm to the faith and the Church, I believe, than any TV show out there. Just my observation. Thanks for your thoughtful article. (https://aodhan51.wordpress.com/)

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    • I don’t think we have anything to “worry” about from this show either. But it’s undeniable that there is a constant narrative that the Church is an antiquated, superstitious, and damaging force in society. And when this narrative is so prominently displayed on a network station during prime time to impressionable minds, it can cause real damage when paired with all the other garbage people are fed through the media. Also, regardless of the Catholic factor, the show is completely inappropriate for a prime time lineup (and, trust me, I am no prude in my entertainment tastes). I’m more offended at the poorly written garbage comedy that passes for entertainment now.

      I agree that crummy Christians (especially apathetic Catholics) do more damage than shows like this can do but, I must ask, if the anti-Christian narrative is the “least of your worries” what are things that concern you?

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  3. Ya know our culture as really gone to the Devil, Gezzzz.. what a disgrace of TV… J is right on the post…Mother of Mary helps us..

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  4. Before I answer, let me say I’ve been reviewing your blog. So far I see a lot that I like. (Please feel free to review my blog.) The things that worry me most are those “crummy Christians” as you call them–appropriately. The constant judgmentalism and hypocritical behaviors. There is so much to love about the Church and our faith. Our wonderful pope, the holiness of the wonderful nuns all around the world spreading hope and help, the exceptional, usually quiet and unsung, priests who offer comfort and guidance to us. They are who we should be talking about. My worry is we overlook those things while we instead look for things to criticize and argue about. We judge harshly and love sparingly. Those are my concerns.

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  5. Well, the show description isn’t any different than what I see in my parish all the time. We had a previous pastor with a new Mercedes and a not so secret girlfriend and who only did the minimal sacramental duties required of him. We have the people who are professionals who are only contributing very minimal amounts in the church envelopes (yes I am a money processor so I see it). We have the pious idiots that make sure to wear a chapel veil but treat everyone like garbage. Art imitates life, so this show is no big deal to me. Instead of blaming the show producers, put the blame where it belongs – on the people who behave this way and make the Church look bad.

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    • I’m sorry your parish has had those problems. I think there is much more good with the Church than there is bad. As the article says, the Church can be ripe for comedy, especially if their target is characters that are poor Catholics rather than Catholicism in general. But I agree we can only blame ourselves, for a different reason. We should blame ourselves for poorly handing the faith down to younger generations and for allowing people to so easily make fun of things they shouldn’t.

      More than anything, it’s just another ridiculously inappropriate show on prime-time network TV. It’s also interesting how shows like The Bible and AD are doing. People are craving something rooted with morals and Christianity–and there’s lots of money to be made there, but the TV execs just can’t bring themselves to make the shows. I’m sure this show will fizzle out like nearly every crummy sitcom they try to push to the masses. Why don’t they go for quality ever anymore?

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  6. Catholics..stop moaning and whinig..you already were given the most powerful weapon to combat everything..the rosary..start praying it..and you will see change

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  7. This saddens me, our Catholic faith is beautiful, our Pope is beautiful. No wonder statues and pictures of Mary and Jesus are crying and bleeding and pouring oil all over the world. You would never do this to the Muslim faithful, you would be targets from the terrorists I am sick and tired of the Politically Correct, all that means is being against Christians.Christians are full of love and give hope to many , we care about life. Hollywood needs to stop this anti Christian, anti- Catholic attitude.I do NOT find this funny at all. My daughter is right , she has no TV in her house, children do not need to see things like, children are confused enough about life.

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  8. How low can you stoop? Anti-Catholicism is not entertainment, it is bigotry. Bigots do not get good ratings. all it shows is ignorance on your part. Try entertaining your audience instead of encouraging negativity and hatred.

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  9. We are in the end days. The media is evil and desensitizing people to this bad behavior and despicable prime time shows. This country is off balance and I am throwing my tv in the garbage. Pray !

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  10. I LOVE THIS SHOW. KEEP IT. You all have no sense of humor. You need to be able to laugh at yourself. Real life. Now if you were so so Christian and Catholic and not not not NOT PRETENTIOUS YOU WOULD SEND SOMEONE OVER TO FIX OUR AC FOR FREE. WE LIVE IN FLA AND IT IS ALREADY 90+F deg. Otherwise these comments are useless.

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  11. If they made an anti Jew series Hollywierd execs would be bouncing off the walls like ricochet Rabbit! Hollywierd is very biased when it cones to their own religion. There should be more Catholics running Hollywood the movies and tv shows would be much better than the junk they try to make fly

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  12. Time to stop watching all the garbage on TV anyway. This is just a loud last straw. Keeping up with the kardashians and the rest of secular society is the wide path we’re advised to avoid.

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  13. First let me point out that out of the world’s billion Catholics, 80% are by name or baptized only. Second, out of those billion, 10% attend Sunday mass only and out of those 10, 1% are living the faith the way it should i.e. following the precepts of the church. The O’Neals fit the majority of the 10%. It’s not the pedophile priests and current views on doctrine, it is us that needs fixing. We do not need this program as it only solidifies the obvious.

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