TV ReviewsThe Righteous Gemstones (1×01) The Righteous Gemstones Review

Critics w/o CredentialsAugust 19, 201985/100
Danny McBride
Danny McBride
Running Time
62 minutes
Sundays 10pm
HBO, HBO Canada
Overall Score
Rating Summary
For now, the jury is still out on The Righteous Gemstones until some of the main characters have been able to develop further, but this first episode was a decent first attempt of a series that might grow into something great.

Synopsis: Upon returning from a baptism marathon in China with his father Eli and brother Kelvin, Jesse Gemstone receives a video from blackmailers seeking to sully his reputation. Eli moves forward with plans to expand the Gemstone empire as he continues to mourn his late wife Aimee-Leigh. (HBO)

From the off-kilter mind of Danny McBride, The Righteous Gemstones is a humorous satirical look at a televangelist family at the height of their fame with everything to lose. It serves as the perfect answer to – What if Succession took place at a mega church? That alone, should cause you to give the first episode a shot.

In The Righteous Gemstones, McBride plays the first-born Gemstone, Jesse, who holds his favoritism in the family over his younger siblings, Judy and Kelvin. All three help run the family business church under the leadership of patriarch, Dr. Eli Gemstone (John Goodman). After the passing of their mother, Anna Leigh (Jennifer Nettles), who served as the guiding light for the entire family and business, the family is left to figure out what is best in order to retain their elite status. It isn’t until outside forces begin to press the family that their seemingly indestructible inner circle starts to fray.

In its first episode, also titled The Righteous Gemstones, offers a well-mixed balance of humor, action and drama that provides both positives and negatives moving forward into the rest of the season. The positives lie within the show’s wide versatility to be able to switch between being funny, containing dramatic moments and also featuring a healthy amount of action through comical set pieces. The negative aspect, and the one that prevented full enjoyment of this first episode, was how it never seemed to settle on what it wanted to be. This eventual direction might be determined in time, however, for its premiere, a critical moment to set the tone for the season and the series, it was difficult to not get back to that question – What does this show want to be about?

Of course, at the heart of The Righteous Gemstones is the family who are comprised of quirky, self-absorbed caricatures that despite being rooted in a world that might only directly speak to some of its audience is still able to showcase very familiar motivations, albeit placed in a religious setting. Greed can be universal and The Righteous Gemstones makes sure that the audience realizes that this vice is also enticing to those that preach against it.

The comical tropes, character stereotypes and plot lines of The Righteous Gemstones have all been well-written about in other comedies and drama, however, the unique aspect that makes this show worthwhile is its intriguing setting within a successful church ministry. This concept alone is worth insituting the 4-episode rule and then make the verdict if it is still worth watching or not. If it can’t by then, it is unlikely that it will. The first episode was enjoyable, but it was not engrossing enough. It did provide just enough to continue watching especially with an ending that many surely did not see coming which will inevitably provide more drama as the season progresses.

It anything, it will definitely be interesting to see the Gemstones of The Righteous Gemstones becoming more unraveled with each episode.

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