ABC orders sitcom inspired by Dan Savage’s Chicago boyhood

SHARE ABC orders sitcom inspired by Dan Savage’s Chicago boyhood
SHARE ABC orders sitcom inspired by Dan Savage’s Chicago boyhood

America soon will get a long look at sex columnist Dan Savage’s boyhood in Chicago — or at least a version of it.

ABC has picked up “The Real O’Neals,” a sitcom produced by Savage (among others) loosely based on his real-life experience coming out as gay as a teenager.

Martha Plimpton, the “Raising Hope” star and Steppenwolf Ensemble member, will star as Eileen O’Neal, married to a Chicago cop, as was Savage’s mom. Her favorite of their three children, 16-year-old middle child Kenny, is the Savage stand-in, keeping his sexuality a secret until a round of family confessions prompts him to spill the truth.

Even before the series was ordered, it was stirring controversy. The conservative Media Research Center and Family Research Council lobbied ABC to reject the pilot, citing Savage’s “venomous Christian bigotry.”

Savage is outspoken about gay-rights issues, faith and bigotry in his Savage Love column for the Seattle newspaper the Stranger, syndicated in outlets including Chicago’s Reader.  In 2010 he created the It Gets Better Project, in which adults make videos assuring gay teenagers that the bullying they endure won’t last forever.

Savage told the AP last month that while “The Real O’Neals” resulted from conversations about his childhood with ABC executives, it “has evolved throughout the development process and it wouldn’t be accurate to describe it as autobiographical.”

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