In one of ABC's newer sitcoms, “The Real O'Neals,” a 'typical' Irish Catholic family goes through its ups and downs as the family members learn to accept each other's differences. One main issue that the show focuses on is one of the characters, Kenny, coming out to his family as gay.
The show portrays both the lighthearted and the uncomfortable moments on his family's journey to acceptance and understanding — a theme ABC is no stranger to.
But as sensitive as the show may strive to be towards the LGBTQ community, some jokes have not gone over well with its audience.
In a scene where Kenny, played by Noah Galvin, is afraid to find out some news about his boyfriend, he compared being bisexual to physical 'abnormalities' and stressing out about finances:
“Oh, God. Here we go. Webbed toes? Money problems? Or worse... bisexual?!”
Following the joke, which aired in a January 17 episode, hurt and angry viewers decided to fight back against the show's 'biphobia' by signing a petition to ABC, which reads, in part:
“This 'joke' has crossed the line saying bisexual teens like me are worse than genetic abnormalities and financial problems! 'Jokes' like this increase the ridiculous amount of biphobia we experience in our lives and I am calling on the American Broadcasting Company to step in and change this!”
But fans weren't expecting a former ABC employee of ten years to back the petition alongside them.
Sara Ramirez, best known for her decade-long role on “Grey's Anatomy,” took to Twitter to slam the network for its joke:
Not only did Ramirez work for ABC, but she also played a bisexual character herself — and in fact, is bisexual off-screen, too:
She felt that Galvin's line was a stab in the back to the LGBTQ community, and felt an apology from ABC was not only in order, but urgently needed:
For the woman who drew upon a very real part of her life to better portray her character on “Grey's Anatomy,” Ramirez felt outraged by ABC's callousness.
According to People, Galvin, who plays Kenny, initially addressed the backlash to his joke in a now-deleted tweet that read:
"[The show] respects and loves the bi community. [It represented] a panicky teen expressing his 'deepest fear' which was his boyfriend leaving him for a girl. I am sorry if we offended anyone. I hope you know our show fights for visibility and inclusivity and we will do better in the future.
BUT, we also have to remember, it’s a comedy."
Although ABC hasn't released a statement about the joke yet, it's clear that the actress who helped the network produce one of its most successful shows has no problem speaking up for issues close to her heart.