Brian Gallivan began a Q&A for his semi-autobiographical CBS sitcom The McCarthys by announcing his family never actually had a DUI, and never carried a dead man’s baby. Addressing TV critics at TCA Summer TV Press Tour 2014, Gallivan said he’d explained to his family that a TV comedy requires the characters have flaws –  so he had to add them, and “that sitcoms also require heartwarming moments so I had to add those.” His family has not yet seen the pilot, and won’t until the series debuts on CBS because, he said, he’d like to continue his relationship with his family until then.

2014 Summer TCA Tour - Day 10The McCarthys revolves around a big, sports-crazed Irish Catholic family in Boston, and the gay son (Tyler Ritter) who is anxious to spend less time with them.

The series was first shot as a single-camera pilot for the season previous to the one that just wrapped, Gallivan said “because my family expresses love through insulting each other and being hateful….” The single-cam format wound up being too dark.

“What I think it lacked was laughter underneath it,” series exec producer Mike Sikowitz said of the first pilot. Sikowitz joined the series in January as it was being re-tooled; he previously exec produced CBS’ multi-cam Rules Of Engagement. “It felt like a single-cam show yearning to be a multi-camera. When put on a stage in front of a studio audience, “feeling the laughter…really filled it out and made it feel more where it belongs,” Sikowitz said.

Asked if the show would get into the “dark side” of being a gay man in America, Gallivan answered diplomatically, he didn’t think the sitcom would go “dark” in the first 13 episodes. “It’s probably going to be pretty light  – my life was always fun as a gay man,” he joked. “And, honestly, I know there are dark sides of that, but I feel there are dramas, and other shows,  that can handle that better than we can.”

When one TV critic complimented Gallivan on having drawn a parental relationship with a gay son that was “more true” than have other programs  — she described it as a sort of “lingering awkwardness” meets generation gap — Gallivan shot her down, explaining that the mother’s “You’re still gay?” line actually was taken from an incident in which one of his brothers said to him,  “We didn’t know if you were still pursuing it,” and that he had been more nervous coming out to his brothers than his parents.

Laurie Metcalf, who plays the family matriarch in the series, said she hopes to do another guest gig on CBS comedy The Big Bang Theory. She “sits by the phone” and waits for that call which, she said, happens about once a year. Meanwhile, when she was cast in The McCarthys it was reported to be a second position to her commitment to HBO’s series Getting On.  Asked how she managed to swing taking both roles, Metcalf  said, “Everybody very graciously worked together and made it happen, so I end Getting On on Friday and start The McCarthys on a Monday.”

The pilot episode includes glowing mentions of CBS’ The Good Wife, as well as USA’s former series The Closer. Gallivan explained he is obsessed with The Good Wife. But when dubious critics wondered if CBS would allow the sitcom to plug any current, non-CBS series,  Gallivan responded pluckily, “Yeah, I think we would be allowed to…” then added,  “I’m making stuff up now — I don’t know.”