'The McCarthys," the CBS sitcom premiering Thursday at 9:30 p.m., sticks to the comfortable with a show revolving around a close-knit family, and ventures slightly into the edgier side because one son is gay.
The McCarthys are sports-crazed Bostonians, and nothing matters more than the Celtics. They love and support one another, and unite in their undying love of basketball and all Boston sports.
Except for Ronny (Tyler Ritter), the youngest, the golden child, gay and Mom's favorite. They are each other's best friend, which Ronny knows is just wrong. Laurie Metcalf ("Roseanne") and Jack McGee ("Rescue Me") play the parents of Ronny, a daughter and twin sons, who are so unalike they go beyond fraternal to looking as if they are from different parents.
Ritter, who bears a strong resemblance to his late father, John, says the toughest part of this job is reflecting the McCarthys' family relationships.
"In my real life, my family and I have so much respect and admiration for everything my family members do," he says. "And Ronny has none of that."
Ritter would love to bring his brother, Jason, on the show. "That would be a dream," Ritter says. "He would add a lot to the flavor. He could play my estranged twin."
This is Ritter's first time at the center of a show.
"This is very different in the sense that I am kind of responsible for showing the audience how you can react to this family's bizarre behavior," Ritter says.
Ronny was a high-school guidance counselor, though his mom refers to him as a psychiatrist. His father is a basketball coach. When the assistant basketball coach dies, the twin brothers desperately want the job. Ronny is on his way to a new job in Providence.
By the McCarthys' standards, moving to Providence is akin to living several continents away, in a country where indoor plumbing and electricity are not yet common.
The family members, as illustrated in the opening credits, all live within a couple of blocks of one another in their very insular Boston world. They completely accept that Ronny is gay, and even try introducing him to other gays, though one is a woman.
As the actors grapple with the Boston accent, McGee, a Bronx native and lifelong Yankees fan, says the hardest part of this gig is going to be pretending to root for the Red Sox.
"I don't know if I can do it," he says. "They said, 'Who is your favorite Celtics player?' I can probably do a Sox -- if I had to. They are paying me good money."
Father does know best, and he picks Ronny as coach, setting up the season as handily as a layup.