When The Real O’Neals returns to ABC Tuesday night for its sophomore go, things will have calmed down for Noah Galvin’s Kenny.
“Even though he had come out, had his first gay kiss, and went to prom with a boy, it kind of died down after that, and he wonders what the next year is going to be,” showrunner David Windsor tells EW. It certainly won’t be quiet for long, as the family comedy will pick up with a chaotic car chase, and Kenny trying to create the first LGBT club at his Catholic high school.
More generally, though, the show will see Kenny and his family grow. “The first season really was all about firsts,” Windsor explains, speaking to Kenny’s announcement and his parents (Martha Plimpton as his mom, Eileen, and Jay R. Ferguson as his dad, Pat) divorcing. “This second season isn’t as much about what those first experiences are. It’s really about settling into what their new reality is.”
So, what will that look like? Windsor says of Kenny, “He feels the pressure of carrying the torch of being one of the few, if only out, gay kids at his school. Now that he’s sort of gotten past the initial difficulties of that, what does that mean for him? How does he move forward? How does he fit in that space?”
Eileen and Pat, meanwhile, have to sort out how they’ll move forward in their relationship. Last season, they came to the realization that they should divorce, and this season, they’re dealing with the aftermath and logistics of that. “They have such a good partnership, not a romantic partnership, but they’re really good parents together,” Windsor notes. “Their romance isn’t there anymore, but they do have this thing of raising their kids and having a family, so how do they make that work?” It probably helps, and lends itself to comedy, to be nearby one another; Pat will be moving out of the basement, but into the garage, which he’ll be converting into a tiny house with help from his brother.
Kenny’s brother Jimmy (Matt Shively) will be figuring out what he wants to do with his life as he gets closer to college, and as for his sister Shannon (Bebe Wood), “Things don’t emotionally impact her the way they do other people,” Windsor says. “She’s having a conscience [for the first time] and doesn’t quite know what to do with that, so it’s a fun story area for her.” Additionally, in the first episode, she loses the classroom for her sewing club to Kenny’s LGBT club, but it turns out her sewing club is a front. *scandalous*
Also ahead, Matt Oberg will return as Vice Principal Murray, who will continue his romance with Eileen and become close with Pat, leaving Martha “sort of stuck in between these two men in her life who have now strangely become really good friends, so it’s a fun triangle between the three of them.”
What’s more, “Jesus is going to come back,” Windsor teases. “I thought Jesus was such a funny, interesting element of the show. We realized that using Jesus in that way really helped us tell those good, faith-affirming stories because he really is a very comforting person in Kenny’s life, and turns out Jesus can be very funny.” Expect more fantasy elements, with Jesus and otherwise, up ahead.
There’ll be some new faces, too. For example, Kenny will befriend a lesbian character named Allison, played by Ramona Young. “They end up having a nice friendship in the first half of the season,” Windsor explains. “She comes back in a really fun Halloween episode, Kenny’s first out Halloween as a gay kid and what that means and how he gets to experience that for the first time.”
As far as what he’s excited about this season, Windsor says, “We’re really glad that we get to keep telling these stories for all the young gay kids out in the world right now.”
Season 2 of The Real O’Neals premieres Tuesday at 9:30 p.m. ET on ABC.