4 December 2019

The Righteous Gemstones is “the funniest show currently on TV.” Can we get a hallelujah?

The Righteous Gemstones, HBO’s most watched comedy debut in three years, tells the story of a world-famous televangelist family with a long tradition of deviance, greed and charitable work – all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Now streaming first on Showmax in South Africa, The Righteous Gemstones was recently renewed for a second season, after earning an 8.1/10 rating on IMDb, an 81% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and a place on Best of the Year lists everywhere from Hypebeast to Rotten Tomatoes. 

Who’s who

Creator Danny McBride (Vice Principals, Eastbound & Down) stars as Jesse, the eldest of three grown Gemstone offspring, who looks to lead in his father’s footsteps but finds his past sins jeopardising the family ministry. 

Teen Choice and MTV Movie Awards winner Adam DeVine (Pitch Perfect, Modern Family) and Edi Patterson (Vice Principals) co-star as Jesse’s siblings, Kelvin and Judy, while Golden Globe winner John Goodman (Roseanne, 10 Cloverfield Lane) plays Jesse’s father, televangelist Eli Gemstone (and appears three decades younger in an extended flashback, thanks to groundbreaking de-ageing VFX). 

“It’s a superbly written and acted dark comedy that humanizes its greedy characters as much as it mocks them in preposterous plots that make for delicious television – much like Succession.”


You can also look forward to Emmy nominee Walton Goggins (Justified, The Shield, Vice Principals) and MTV Movie Award nominee Dermot Mulroney (My Best Friend’s Wedding, Trade of Innocents) as preachers; Grammy-winning country music star Jennifer Nettles in flashbacks as Aimee-Leigh Gemstone, Eli’s recently deceased wife; and School of Rock star Tony Cavalero as lovable ex-Satanist Keefe Chambers. 

“The Gemstones are a world-famous televangelist family,” says McBride, who also wrote and directed the pilot. “They started out from humble beginnings and have slowly but surely built a humongous empire spreading the good word. The church used to be run by Eli Gemstone and Aimee-Leigh Gemstone; they were a husband and wife duo. Aimee-Leigh Gemstone has passed away and Eli finds himself in a place where he has to fill that void. He’s looking to his children to do that but all of his children come up short.” 

More hilarious shows to watch

As corrupt as the Roy family

That combination of extreme wealth and extreme paternal disappointment has earned The Righteous Gemstones a number of comparisons to another hit HBO show, Succession. As CNN says, “It’s a superbly written and acted dark comedy that humanizes its greedy characters as much as it mocks them in preposterous plots that make for delicious television – much like Succession.”

The Righteous Gemstones is often surprisingly moving. As Slate recently wrote, “Underlying the satire of megachurch Christianity is a hilarious but poignant portrait of a family coping with loss… The Righteous Gemstones might be the funniest show currently on television, and it’s certainly the funniest show I’ve ever seen about grief…” 

McBride says he grew up in a religious family, attending a Baptist church, with an aunt who is now a minister in the church. “I hope people don’t come out and think this is in any way anti-religious,” he says. “Ultimately, this is not about trying to target people’s faith and what they believe in – it’s really just targeting hypocrites and a family that has exploited religion for their own gain, which has made them lose touch with what their original mission was.”

Goodman says McBride’s insider approach was part of the appeal of the project. “I like Danny McBride’s view on things Southern. He’s from there, he’s very observant and it’s a nice prism. He makes these people funny by never talking down or punching down – it’s just basically human nature.” 

The Righteous Gemstones marks the third HBO series for the Rough House Pictures team of McBride, Jody Hill and David Gordon Green, following the Teen Choice-nominated Eastbound & Down and the Emmy-nominated Vice Principals. But as Uproxx says, The Righteous Gemstones is “Danny McBride’s best work yet.”

So if you’re in need of a laugh, The Righteous Gemstones is the answer to your prayers. Can we get a hallelujah?

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