INTERVIEW: ‘The Kids Are Alright’ Tackles Irish Catholicism and the 70s

Specificity is a key ingredient of comedy, so it makes sense that ABC is premiering yet another half-hour show that revolves around a very unique family in a very unique time. The Kids Are Alright will air its first episode, a side-splitting look into a family of eight boys raised in an Irish Catholic home,  tonight at 8:30 EST. To celebrate, actress Mary McCormack and creator Tim Doyle chatted with us about what to expect while at Paley Fest this year. Check out the interviews below to see whether or not your interest is piqued:

Mary McCormack plays the near-agoraphobic Peggy Cleary, who is the heart of the household and keeps everything running. “I think she’s a really interesting character,” McCormack gushed about her role. “She’s overbearing and super controlling. Her house is her world.” Surprisingly, Peggy only leaves her house to go to church, which is an important part of the world of The Kids Are Alright. Even their bingo games are at church, and said church is at the center of the pilot when her eldest son decides not to join the seminary after all. But the actress explained that Peggy’s controlling nature was “all out of love, but it’s a lot. She’s a force.”

The family’s Irish background and Catholic religion play a huge role in the show. “Even just an Irish style of parenting is a big part of the show,” McCormack added. “It’s a cultural sort of Irish-ness that I relate to.” Peggy is easy to relate to for any woman who has gotten in over her head trying to keep everyone else afloat, regardless of their own cultural history, but it’s that specificity which adds the necessary authenticity to elevate The Kids Are Alright beyond standard comedy.

Tim Doyle has previously been a part of creating unique and quirky comedies such as Better Off Ted, but he had a different approach when developing The Kids Are Alright. “It’s a little more down-to-earth, it’s a little more grounded in the reality of a family and the limitations of resources that a family this size has,” Doyle said. He grew up in a family of similar size that often lacked the finer things, “but it wasn’t a grim thing.”

Growing up in a family of all boys during the 70s gave Doyle a lot of material from which to pick and choose. Almost every aspect of the show has an analogue to his own childhood, and according to him, “The incidents in this story are very true to things that happened in my childhood.” Audiences will find out tomorrow just how many of those experiences have analogues to their own lives as well.