The Real O'Neals: Martha Plimpton on the 'Loving' Divorce Ceremony

Marisa Roffman
THE REAL O'NEALS - “The Real Move” - When VP Murray starts spending time around the house, Pat realizes it’s time to move out.  Meanwhile, Eileen starts her new job at Aunt Jodi’s salon, and when the kids discover how unhappy their parents were during their 18 years of marriage, they stage a celebratory “divorce ceremony,” on “The Real O’Neals,” TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 1 (9:30-10:00 p.m. EDT), on the ABC Television Network (ABC/Kevin Estrada)
BEBE WOOD, MARTHA PLIMPTON, MATT OBERG, NOAH GALVIN, MATT SHIVELY

The Real O'Neals' Eileen (Martha Plimpton) and Pat (Jay R. Ferguson) are taking new steps to move on from their marriage.

As Pat contemplates moving out and Eileen continues her relationship with VP Murray (Matt Oberg), the kids begin to have concerns that their parents may not have been really happy during their marriage. So the O'Neals put another unique twist on their dissolving relationship: a divorce ceremony. "Not many marriages end amicably in this way," Plimpton notes. "If they do, they certainly don't do this kind of thing."

Though Plimpton originally anticipated the ceremony being more comedic, it "ends up being this weird kind of loving gesture," she says. "Somehow in the execution it ended up being moving. To be honest with you, I'm as surprised as anybody else."

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Going forward, "Eileen is not a person who has understood what she wants in life, aside from loving her children and wanting them to do well, and serving God," Plimpton points out. "She hasn't seemed to have a personal ambition of her own. This relationship with VP Murray, who knows where it's going to end up going, but we're seeing a woman who has never been romantically or physically satisfied. And we're getting to see that part of her, putting herself first in that new way…her impetus, her subtext is about balancing what she wants for her children with what she wants for herself. That's always been her biggest internal conflict."

And while Eileen has become significantly more accepting of Kenny's (Noah Galvin) sexuality over the course of the series, she'll have a new milestone to deal with soon: He gets his first real boyfriend. "I think she knows he's not going to be ungayed at this point; it's not going to happen," Plimpton says. "We're more about negotiating the emotional, in the moment response to these new challenges. We've addressed him kissing a boy in the Halloween episode and how she responds to that [poorly] in the moment. So, really, that's what it's about: the in-the-moment reaction versus what you would do if you were listening to your better self."

The Real O'Neals, Tuesdays, 9:30/8:30c, ABC