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What we’re obsessed with right now: ‘The Righteous Gemstones’

Adam DeVine, John Goodman, Danny McBride
“The Righteous Gemstones” on HBO stars (from left) Adam DeVine, John Goodman and Danny McBride.
(Fred Norris/HBO)

San Diego Union-Tribune editors and writers share what they’re currently obsessing over.

What I’m obsessed with: “The Righteous Gemstones,” an odd and dark HBO comedy that follows a family of successful megachurch pastors.

Why: At first I didn’t like this show — it’s weird and uncomfortable and not a single character is likeable.

You have John Goodman as Eli Gemstone, the widowed leader of a church that’s so successful there’s an amusement park on the family compound.

Eli has three insufferable kids: Jesse (Danny McBride) wants to take over the family business but can’t seem to stay out of trouble, and I mean sinister kind of trouble; Judy (Edi Patterson) wants to be taken seriously but she’s extremely raunchy and immature; and Kelvin (Adam DeVine) is a spoiled brat who uses the church to fund his various whims.

These weirdos wormed their way into my heart: “The Righteous Gemstones” was created by McBride — the same person behind other oddball shows like “Eastbound & Down” and “Vice Principals.” McBride is an adept comedy writer and performer who is most comfortable in this kind of cringe humor. But he also makes his characters human and relatable, which is how, after several episodes, I started rooting for the Gemstones despite their terrible qualities.

A familiar story: If a show about scheming kids who want to take over their father’s business sounds familiar, it’s because “The Righteous Gemstones” does have a lot in common with HBO’s other dark dramedy, “Succession.”

Hear me out — Kendall Roy and Jesse Gemstone are in line to be the successors but they can’t seem to overcome their vices; Shiv and Judy both have to fight for their place in a family of men, and they are also with men who aren’t respected by the family; and Kelvin and Roman are classic younger siblings, trying to prove they can be taken seriously but not quite measuring up.

Both have evil undertones, but “The Righteous Gemstones” uses absurd comedy to tell its family saga.

Wordplay: Another thing I love about this show is the biblical-sounding episode titles, like “Better is the End of a Thing Than Its Beginning,” “After I Leave, Savage Wolves Will Come” and “For He Is a Liar and the Father of Lies.”

A new season: The show originally premiered in 2019 and ran for nine episodes. It returned for a second season in January and it’s been exploring deeper, darker secrets hidden in the hallowed Gemstone walls.

“The Righteous Gemstones” is currently airing Sunday nights on HBO, with past episodes available to stream on HBO Max.


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