Danny McBride is great at playing the role of the “a—hole.” Since 2009, the actor and comedian has been perfecting his craft, discovering the best way to bring laughter to his audience through crass jokes and sarcastic wit. McBride continues this trend with his latest show, “The Righteous Gemstones,” which is his third TV show to appear on HBO.
In 2009, McBride’s first deal with the premium channel giant resulted in his first ever show, “Eastbound & Down,” which aired for four seasons. It was a huge success, not only helping to put HBO comedy on the map but also supplying a platform for McBride’s abrasive style.
In 2016, McBride and fellow “Eastbound & Down” executive producer Jody Hill reunited for their next HBO project, “Vice Principals.” While the show only lasted two seasons, this short stint was by choice, and the show was actually very well-received by fans and critics. Fast forward to today, and the duo has collided once again, this time giving fans a dark yet hilarious look into the corrupt world of religion.
The show centers around the Gemstones, a family of televangelists taking every opportunity they can to cash in on their own religious antics, including building a megachurch that looks like a mixture of Jerry World and Mall of America. The family patriarch and his three kids live a wonderful life of passing around the plate and using the returns to sustain their luxurious lives.
Everything changes, however, when Jesse Gemstone (McBride) is blackmailed for his past sins. Suddenly, Jesse and his two younger siblings find themselves involved in a convoluted battle with their blackmailers, doing anything they can to protect their family fortune.
“The Righteous Gemstones” joins a vast list of hit HBO comedies, and, though it might be too early to label the show a hit, if it’s anything like McBride and Hill’s last few projects, “The Righteous Gemstones” has a remarkably high ceiling.
HBO’s history of top-tier comedy shows also helps, stretching as far back as 2000 with “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” HBO is also the home of fantastic comedy series like “Flight of the Conchords,” “Silicon Valley” and, most recently, “Barry.” Between these and McBride’s string of successful TV shows, it’s clear that HBO knows a thing or two about producing successful comedy.
Anybody familiar with Danny McBride’s work knows that he is often typecast as the same character; he’s crass, arrogant, a little dimwitted and, in the end, kind of lovable. McBride has even presented similar forms of this character on the big screen with movies like “30 Minutes or Less,” “Pineapple Express,” “Tropic Thunder” and plenty more.
While this isn’t the only side to McBride’s acting prowess, as made apparent by his more serious roles in films like “Alien: Covenant,” “Halloween” and “As I Lay Dying,” it’s definitely the role he plays most often.
The “hilarious a—hole” archetype feels perfected under McBride, but it also seems to take on a more well-rounded and dynamic role. Over the past few years especially, McBride has taken his trademark brand of comedy beyond its one-dimensional approach to reveal the vulnerable side of each of his characters.
The game seems to no longer be about creating a character that the audience can laugh at, but rather creating a character that the audience can root against, root for, sympathize with and fall in love with. “Vice Principals” exemplifies this newly-developed archetype, and, even only a few episodes into “The Righteous Gemstones,” it’s evident that Jesse Gemstone is almost certainly going to be a complicated antihero.
Fans of “Vice Principals” will be excited to see various actors from the show join McBride for his newest show. Actress Edi Patterson joins her “Vice Principals” co-star as Jesse Gemstone’s underappreciated sister. The chemistry between the two is apparently as strong as it’s ever been.
Similarly, actor Walton Goggins is introduced as a prominent character in the lives of the Gemstone family. Aside from his role in “Vice Principals,” Goggins is best known for his parts in “The Hateful Eight,” “Sons of Anarchy” and “The Shield.” Goggins gets yet another opportunity to show off his flexible acting abilities in “The Righteous Gemstones” while still maintaining his unique grit.
The show features plenty of other big names, including comedian and actor Adam DeVine. DeVine plays the third Gemstone sibling and seems to mesh wonderfully with his other two co-stars. Perhaps the biggest name to appear on the show so far, however, is John Goodman. Goodman is arguably one of the most iconic actors of all time. If you don’t recognize his face, then you’re sure to recognize his voice, as the actor has had plenty of experience in TV, film and the world of animation.
Goodman plays the patriarch of the Gemstone family. His constant struggle to maintain control over both his family and the religious community sets up a slew of great interactions between himself and his three kids.
HBO has repeatedly made a name for itself when it comes to off-the-wall comedy, and “The Righteous Gemstones” looks to be the next triumphant notch on their belt. It especially seems like every time they team up with McBride, sparks start flying and comedy fans from all over come flocking to the network.