Kenneth "Kenny" Christopher Sebastian O'Neal is the main protagonist in the ABC comedy The Real O'Neals. He is the middle child, and second-born son of the O'Neal family. He is portrayed by Noah Galvin.
Kenny is the smart, likable, and funny middle child of Eileen and Pat O'Neal, who's always felt like a bit of a black sheep compared to his perfect siblings. Though he didn’t intend it, his initial decision to come out of the closet as gay is what spurs the chain reaction of secrets from the rest of his family to spill out as well. What's never been a secret is that Kenny is his mother's favorite. However, his announcement about his sexuality threatens their special relationship when it opposes her firmly held traditional beliefs. As the first out gay kid at his school, the students and faculty turn Kenny into a reluctant spokesperson for the entire LGBT community. All this extra attention would be a lot for anyone to deal with, not to mention a 16-year-old Catholic high school student. Luckily, Kenny has a vivid imagination, and he often taps into his subconscious to get advice and guidance from various wise figures – including Jesus and Jimmy Kimmel. At the end of the day, all Kenny really wants is to be accepted by his community and his family as the person he truly is.
In the Closet
It is unknown when Kenny realized he was gay, but it is known what his life was like before he came out. The only episode that really showed Kenny's life before coming out was the Pilot episode, where he did come out. Kenny was a good-hearted Christian boy who obeyed the rules of the conservative Irish Catholic family, and acted like an angel. He was in a relationship with a girl named Mimi, who he most likely started dating before he knew he was gay. Mimi, from time to time, would try to lead Kenny onto having sex with her, but he would always, decline, being restricted by his religion to do so. Sometime when Kenny did know he was gay, he was absolutely obligated to coming out or letting anyone know or figure out because he thought that it would ruin his reputation and completely go against his religion. In the episode The Real F Word, he mentioned that he was planning on coming out when he was in college.
Kenny officially came out in the Pilot episode, where he could no longer handle the pressure of being closeted anymore. Once he had thoughts about spending the rest of his life with Mimi, that had officially put an end to it. Kenny began to come out at the St. Barklay Church party, where he was at the risk of coming out in public. Kenny went back into the conference room with his dad, in order to get some privacy from the party and started to come out to him. He started by saying "I don't wanna have sex with girls. Vaginas scare me." Pat misinterpreted this and said "That feeling never goes away.", assuming he meant that he was actually scared of the horrifying appearance and attributes of female vaginas. Just then, Eileen came in with the other two kids, and asked them what was going on in there. Pat told them that they should all have a family meeting, to talk about something important, wanting to tell the family about the fact that he and Eileen were getting a divorce. Hesitant to do so at first, believing the kids weren't ready for it, Eileen tried stopping him, but eventually did mention it. When Kenny heard this, he knew this was his chance to come out as gay. Just then, however, Jimmy came out as an anorexic. After that, Shannon came out as a thief. Eileen was in a state of shock, feeling nothing but shame for her family. Finally, Kenny came out as gay, which was the finishing blow. It also turned out that the whole time, the entire party could hear them and they all knew their horrible and sinful secrets.
In the episode The Real Thang, Kenny was very comfortable with being an open homosexual and the rest of his family and school was also officially secure with it. He had started up an LGBT club at his school and had connections with famous members of the LGBT community that he contacted on his rainbow phone (although this was only a gag in the cold opening). However, at this time, Kenny was also unhappy that he wasn't getting any action as a homosexual, not having a boyfriend at the time. In The Real Dates, he said that the problem for this was because his entire environment was too heterosexual so he didn't have much of an opportunity.
Kenny is a very courageous, outgoing guy, who has not been afraid to take any risks, no matter how big they may be. Coming out to the world had to have been Kenny's biggest and most terrifying fear in life, and ever since he's overcome that, there's pretty much nothing that he will back away from. Although Kenny would never do something with the sole purpose of hurting someone else, he can be easily angered at times, and doesn't always handle his negative feelings the right way. He does, however, know that he did something wrong when it happens. Kenny doesn't act like a gay stereotype, although he may do a few slightly stereotypical things such as obsessing over the kind of clothes he wears, trying to add more spice and pizazz to everything he does, and watching chick flicks and tv shows marketed toward women. However, he also does things that avoid stereotyping, such as being a better outdoor camper than two heterosexual guys and also joining the school's wrestling team and becoming really good at it. So, he wants to knock down stereotypes, but still wants the world to know that he's gay.
- Eileen O'Neal - Being a very conservative Catholic, Eileen doesn't entirely approve of Kenny's homosexuality and has the need to reprogram him. However, Eileen knows that there's nothing Kenny can do about his homosexuality and she needs to accept that he's gay. She just has a lot of trouble getting around it. Eileen is still Kenny's mother, so she still loves him no matter what sexual orientation he is. Later on in the series, somewhere around season 2, Eileen learns to fully accept the fact that Kenny is gay. Aside from that, Eileen can get very angry if Kenny does something that she doesn't like and she will make a big deal out of it. She will always be on top of him, watching him like a hawk, and making sure he does not break the rules. This of course, only makes Kenny want to break the rules even more, which is the start of yet another big, fat conflict between the two of them.
- Pat O'Neal - Pat the loving father of Kenny, who cares for him deeply. When Kenny came out, there wasn't nearly as much conflict with him as there was with Eileen. In fact, Pat didn't have any strife at all, when he heard about it. He seemed a bit surprised, but didn't inflict any homophobia on him for it, and was pretty quick to accept it. After the divorce with Eileen, Pat has been a bit paranoid that the kids would only be spending time with Eileen, thereby forgetting about him. So, he has been trying his best to make good, happy memories with Kenny, Jimmy, and Shannon.
- Jimmy O'Neal - Like with most sibling relationships, Jimmy and Kenny don't always get along and they tend to fight a lot. Most of the time, however, the two of them are friends and they only fight occasionally. In the episode The Real Spring Fever, Jimmy helped his little brother out by showing him some gay porn to help him get in touch with his gay side. In the episode The Real Retreat, Jimmy and Kenny were enemies and they both got into an all-out war over who got to control the kids. So, their relationship with each other is pretty love-hate. Kenny tries to be nice to Jimmy, but he kind of of looks down on him due to his stupidity. Kenny also understands that because of how Jimmy is a full-blown heterosexual, being a dumb jock who plays sports and loves girls and he understands that along with that, Jimmy is very concerned about keeping his manhood. So, if Jimmy's role of being a tough guy is ever being endangered, Kenny is there to help him. In The Real Man, Jimmy was feeling bad about how Kenny was a better outdoor camper than he was, and so Kenny "sent homosexuals back a few decades" by intentionally acting like a whiny, incompetent guy to make Jimmy look better. In The Real Prom, Kenny helped Jimmy ask Lacey out to the prom, but of course, wanted for his big move to be a bit more festive and special.
- Shannon O'Neal - Kenny's cunning and manipulative sister, Shannon often time uses her sneaky ways of committing crime to help Kenny. In The Real F Word, she helped Kenny spread rumors about Madison Chartoff to make her sound like a horrible person. She later helped him cut school, although when confronted by Pat and Eileen, Kenny cracked under pressure and ruined her plan for her. Shannon then said "This is why I work alone". In The Real Spring Fever, Shannon signed Kenny up on a dating website in order to help him meet guys.
- Allison - Allison is Kenny's lesbian friend and the only other LGBT student at his school, currently. Allison is a very quiet and socially awkward girl and so Kenny is the only kid she really talks to. Kenny is able to help her become comfortable with her leabianism, teaching her how to feel secure and happy with who she is. In The Real Thang, he gave her the courage to come out to her parents, only to find out that her parents would disown her for hearing about it. So, he went through the trouble of catching up with her, just before she came out, and teaching her about how it's just not the right time to come out yet. Even though Allison hasn't come out to her parents, she can still openly talk about her sexuality in front of Kenny.
- Lacey - Lacey is a friend of Kenny's who sits next to him in one of his classes. Ever since Lacey has started dating Kenny's brother, Jimmy in The Real Wedding, she has been closer to Kenny and has been able to talk to him more. In The Real Dates, Lacey went off to college and broke up with Jimmy, meaning that they probably won't be seeing each other anymore.
- Mimi Waxberg - Mimi is Kenny's first known love interest in the series. Before coming out, Kenny was in a romantic relationship with Mimi and they were together for a very long time and the two of them became very attached to each other. Things were going nicely and wonderfully, until about a few years into their relationship, when strife had begun to bother them. Kenny was 100% certain that he was gay at this time and he had no idea how to tell this to her and Mimi kept pushing Kenny to have sex with her, which he was abstaining from. In the episode The Real Papaya, their relationship ended, when Kenny told Mimi the truth. Mimi was very angry at Kenny for doing this to her and she didn't talk to him for a long time. In the episode, The Real Wedding, however, Kenny and Mimi had become simple friends again.
- Ricky - In the episode The Real Lent, Kenny started dating his first post-coming out boyfriend. Ricky was a liberal activist who did a lot of work protesting for things such as ending child labor. They dated for a while, but then Ricky broke up with him because he said that the two of them are too different from each other to ever be a thing. This was very sad for Kenny, but he at least knew that he had successfully gotten a boyfriend, setting high levels of optimism for the future of him and his life as a homosexual.
- Jake - In the episode The Real Spring Fever, a gay guy who worked at a coffee shop named Jake fell in love with Kenny and gave him a coffee that was on the house. When Kenny heard about this, he started to feel it to and they started an unspoken, romantic connection. This was shortly ended when the rest of his family came up, making a bunch of inappropriate comments about gay people, turning Jake away from Kenny and ending any chances of them starting a relationship together.
- Sebastian - In the episode The Real Prom, Kenny became smitten again with a British exchange student named Sebastian. He was going to ask him out to the school prom, but the long-closeted Stuart beat him to it, as he officially came out, much to the surprise of nobody with brains, and asked him to prom before he did. Later at the prom, Sebastian came back for Kenny, abandoning Stuart and the two of them shared a dance together, commencing a relationship between the two. Kenny also kissed Sebastian on the lips, which was Kenny's first official kiss. This, however, was not as exciting as he expected it to be, becoming kind of a let down for him. The two of them kind of drifted apart by the end of the episode and stopped dating once again.
- Brett Young - Brett is Kenny's first long-term boyfriend. In the episode The Real Christmas, Kenny had a love-hate relationship with a guy named Brett. Kenny was the lead singer in a church choir, until Brett joined and replaced him. Kenny was jealous of him and did many things to try and ruin Brett's job as a member of the choir. It didn't take long for Brett to catch on, starting an argument between the two. Brett revealed that he was in love with Kenny during the argument, which got both of them to stop arguing, fall in love, and become boyfriends and Kenny finally told his parent that they were together, which they took suprisingly well. In The Real Sin, Kenny tried to impress Brett by acting like a bad boy, something that Brett told him that he wasn't interested in. Kenny wasn't a bad boy at all anyway, so he stopped trying to act like one in front of him. In The Real Acceptance, Brett and Kenny officially became boyfriends. In The Real Confirmation, Brett told Kenny that he loved him for the first time, but Kenny wasn't ready to go this far yet. When he told Brett about it, he assumed that he meant their relationship should be "put on pause" for a while. In the next episode, The Real Heartbreak, it was official that what Brett meant by that, was that he was breaking up with him, leaving Kenny very heartbroken, putting him through a depression that took a lot of time to get over.
- Kenny's actor, Noah Galvin is actually an open homosexual.
- Noah Galvin is also very talented with singing, having a background in Broadway theatre, before working on the show. This has been expressed in the show, many times, having Kenny sing musical numbers such as I Have a Boyfriend, The Greatest Night, and Do Re Mi.
- One of Kenny's middle names is "Sebastian", and in the episode "The Real Prom", he dated a boy named Sebastian.