Sara Ramirez Calls Out Bisexual Joke on ‘The Real O’Neals’
Like Grey's Anatomy, fellow ABC show The Real O’Neals ups not just the quantity but the quality of LGBT representation.
But an ill-advised joke on the sitcom rightfully offended Grey’s alum Sara Ramirez — and she may decide not to return to Grey’s or anywhere else on ABC because of it.
The inciting incident came in the first moments of the January 17 episode — titled “The Real Acceptance,” ironically enough — when Kenny’s new love interest, Brett, tells Kenny he has something he’s been meaning to tell him.
“Oh, God. Here we go,” Kenny says, via inner monologue. “Webbed toes? Money problems? Or worse... bisexual?!”
That line of dialogue inspired a Canadian viewer named Ewen Cameron to start a Change.org petition titled “End Biphobia and Bi-Erasure on The Real O’Neals.”
The teen even called out executive producer Dan Savage — on whose childhood the ABC comedy is roughly based — for his history of questionably-biphobic comments.
The 41-year-old directed her tweets at ABC’s official Twitter account and even implied she won’t work with the network unless they take action to right the wrong.
“And as someone who worked for them for 10+ years, I am truly disheartened and disappointed, quite frankly,” she tweeted. “I will invest my brand where I’m respected.”
PFLAG actually partnered with the Real O’Neals writers for the episode, and PFLAG National Director of Communications Liz Owen provided the following statement to activist Eliel Cruz-Lopez:
“We were so focused on the family acceptance portion of the episode that we completely missed the joke.”
“We were really proud on partnering on the episode. It blew by as a teen looking for acceptance from his family,” Liz continued.
“In hindsight, we should have caught it and we blew it. We should have done better and we will definitely do better next time. As allies we have a responsibility.”
Noah Galvin, who plays Kenny on The Real O’Neals, tweeted to say the show “respects and loves the bi community.”
“I am sorry if we offended anyone,” the 22-year-old added. “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.”
Sara is aware of both responses, but she’s still waiting on ABC to comment.
“While @PFLAG response was amazing, where is network’s response?” she tweeted. “The actor's response wasn't enough for me. @ABCNetwork was in the same room.”
We’ve been hoping Sara’s absence from Grey’s has been more of a hiatus and less of an exit… but if ABC stays silent, she may stay away.
Read more of Wetpaint’s Sara Ramirez coverage below: