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THE RIGHTEOUS GEMSTONES gets 7.5/10 A sinner’s miracle

Season 1 (Episodes 1-3)

Created by Danny McBride
Starring Danny McBride, John Goodman, Edi Patterson, Adam Devine


What makes HBO’s The Righteous Gemstones so entertaining is its fresh take on an old joke. We’ve all seen loads of comedies bash religion from Monty Python to South Park, but what’s really hard is to bash the people who profit from religion without actually bashing the faith itself. In comes Danny McBride’s miracle new hit.

Across Southern Carolina, devout Christians flock to the Gemstones’ Church, here they bask in the beautifully crafted message of God from Eli Gemstone (John Goodman), and his sons, Kelvin (Adam Devine) and Jesse (Danny McBride). While the family have a successful Mega Church Empire, behind closed doors we see nothing but greedy narcissists that aren’t righteous at all. Quite the opposite really, starting with the sexist exclusion the sister, Judy (Edi Patterson).

When chaos begins to seep into their complacent lives, the family’s exceptional arrogance and selfishness begin to highlight their misuse of power and wealth. This is constantly evident through the side effects of the family’s close entanglement with the seven deadly sins and the use of their positions in life to negate the consequences.

However, when the cotton tipped black sheep of the family, Jesse, gets caught red handed while doing the devil’s work, he must turn to his siblings for help in fear of his father finding out his secret, or worse, his followers.

The brunt of this show’s lighthearted features comes from the siblings’ exceptionally poor teamwork. Kevin is much in the style of Devine’s character in his hit show, Workaholics, which can miss the mark but mostly gives the show what it needs. Judy’s humor shines through for viewers with a keen ear for her meta one-liners. The morally tainted Jesse emits a more sinister tone like an anti-hero does which brings a deeper drama and more dark humor to the show, making it refreshing to watch.

McBride (Eastbound & Down) told Dax Shepard, of The Armchair Expert podcast, that he finally feels like he’s doing the exact thing he wants creatively, and it’s showing. His acting is more dynamic because he has designed a richer role for himself, granting him an increased emotional breadth compared to the previous roles in which he’s been typecast. The good thing about the proliferation of television in the past decade, is that actors like McBride get a real shot at developing their craft, when given a shot to do so.

It will be interesting to see where this show goes with its story, as its characters and themes run deep, giving the writers a lot of dramatic and thought provoking room to work with. Where the show might fall short in the future, however, is its plot structure. It feels like a new villain, or scandal, will threaten to bring down the family every season, and may result in the plot feeling forced and formulaic. While this is pure speculation, the show does promise plenty and is certainly a lot of fun to watch.


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