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The Righteous Gemstones is a "smart comedy" that is superior to Succession

  • "Sophisticated humor this is not, but it shares more DNA with a critical darling like Succession than one might expect," says Dan Gentile of Danny McBride's HBO televangelist comedy series. "Similar to how the uber-rich Roy family speak in tongues no outsiders would likely understand (I’m still not sure what Kendall meant by 'sweaty spaghetti'), the Gemstones banter with a unique mix of proverbs and profanity. The writing is probably too juvenile to actually win awards, but worth a nomination nonetheless. And like Brian Cox’s Logan Roy, John Goodman plays his stately patriarch role with cards held close to his chest, a stoic comic foil for McBride and the rest of the flock. Where Gemstones takes it a step further than their Golden Globe-hoarding high-brow HBO sibling is that the writers have created an entire universe for each member of the Gemstone flock — nearly every one seems worthy of a spin-off. Adam DeVine’s Kelvin is the pretty boy envoy to youth groups, who among other Gen Z promotional tactics, has created a Christian bodybuilding crew that follows him everywhere. His sidekick, a former drug addict who dresses more like a Satan worshipper, serves as a not-so-ambiguously gay life partner. It’s crude to the point that some of the jokes walk the line of cancel territory, but always stay on the right side of mean-spirited."


    • The Righteous Gemstones' warmth is where it really excels: "What makes a show as profane and raunchy as Gemstones so irresistible—the quality that’s made it a cult hit, and deserves to make it a non-cult one—is the remarkable warmth at its core," says Jack Hamilton. "It’s a show that’s free of cynicism while never feeling cloying or treacly. It’s not a show that’s out to teach lessons or impart wisdom, because it respects its audience as adults, people mature enough to know that sitcoms aren’t a finishing school, let alone a church. What the show does have is an unmistakable sense of joy in every facet of its execution: Everyone involved seems to be having the time of their lives, and it’s this quality that’s most powerfully imparted to viewers." He adds: "One of The Righteous Gemstones’ great achievements is satirizing one of the easiest targets in modern American life—the gaudy, scandal-rich world of big-money televangelism—while never veering into condescension or cruelty. The world that the show depicts isn’t one we’re meant to admire or even wish to visit, but McBride and his collaborators have created a work of unexpected empathy that lingers after the laughs have subsided. For a show that’s necessarily agnostic in its theological commitments, its fundamental optimism and humanism remain inseparable from each other. As Sunday rituals go, we could all do a lot worse."
    • Eric Andre found working on The Righteous Gemstones a very safe, nurturing, creative environment: "I felt like I had the ability to improvise as much or as little as I wanted," he says of joining Season 2. "The writing was so rock solid and strong and funny and well thought out that even if I just stick, fully committed, to the script, I would be just as happy im improvising my way through it. And yeah, they’re just a great group. And Charleston’s a really fun city. And I had a blast." As for his role, Andre says: "When I first got to Charleston, Danny sent me a bunch of YouTube links of a bunch of televangelists that he thought were like really entertaining and hilarious. So I went down a YouTube wormhole. But it’s very similar to standup comedy, in a way."
    • Danny McBride says The Righteous Gemstones offers the ultimate display of his past characters who considered themselves bigger than God: “That particular type of person, I find, is fascinating, the idea of a pastor who sees themself as a rock star,” he says. “Like a pastor that sees themself as bigger than the message they’re trying to sell. It seems like such a contradiction to what the basic principles of what they’re spouting are. A lot of the shows that I’ve dealt with before, Eastbound or Vice Principals, that’s very much in line with the type of characters we’ve explored, these characters who have an inflated sense of self. To me, the idea of a minister that sees themself as bigger than God just feels like the ultimate display of that.”
    • Executive producers David Gordon Green and Jody Hill discuss The Righteous Gemstones' unpredictable future: "I can honestly say I know nothing about the future of the plans of our narrative," he says. "Jody, you may, but I thus far have not been involved in any of those (conversations.) Everything has been very under wraps right now, which I think is very fun. When there is that internal unveiling of the concept, it’s just such an electric and creative part of the process. And as long as that can keep happening, it is cool to have through Danny’s leadership really engineered something where you have the budget to take your imagination, these characters, and these narratives to the maximum. It is fun just to keep testing and pushing and expanding. Until they’re colonizing Mars, I don’t see that there’s any reason to stop Gemstones." Hill adds: "It’s really fun that there’s this rich, powerful family that — and you used the word 'saga' — can just go and go. There are always people to explore, and there are so many characters. The cast is so big. All our shows, like Eastbound and Vice Principals, were really about one guy or maybe two. This is an ensemble, and that’s really attractive to me. Plot aside, it’s really nice to follow a family’s structure and see where that goes."
    • Edi Patterson on comparisons to the Succession family: "Clearly, we could beat them up," she says. "I haven't watched the show but clearly, we could beat them up."

    TOPICS: The Righteous Gemstones, HBO, Succession, Danny McBride, David Gordon Green, Edi Patterson, Eric Andre, Jody Hill