The Righteous Gemstones Season 3 ReviewJune 13, 2023 By Admin
Over the past fifteen years, it has been absolutely captivating to witness the evolution of Danny McBride through the three distinct HBO series he has created. “Eastbound & Down,” which McBride co-created with Ben Best and Jody Hill, introduced us to Kenny Powers, a former baseball pitcher and an all-around despicable person. However, it wasn’t until the show’s fourth and final season that it truly found its heart. “Vice Principals,” also co-created with Hill, was intentionally designed as a two-season series but showcased McBride’s expansive vision and creativity.
Nevertheless, it is with “The Righteous Gemstones” that McBride has bestowed upon us his pièce de résistance—a sprawling, absurd, ambitious, and brilliant comedy that has only gotten better with each passing season. McBride himself once expressed his vision for “Righteous Gemstones,” stating, “I’ve set this one to be longer than anything we’ve done before. If I had my way, when this is done, it’s like this epic, sprawling tale, like the fucking Thorn Birds or something.” With the release of this remarkable third season of “The Righteous Gemstones,” we can only hope that it signifies a long and prosperous future for the show.
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The third season kicks off with the Gemstone family seemingly thriving. They now own their own vacation resort, Eli Gemstone (played by John Goodman) has retired, and the three Gemstone children have taken charge of the church. Jesse (portrayed by McBride) is ascending in the spiritual realm, Kelvin (played by Adam DeVine) and his extremely close friend Keefe (Tony Cavalero) are running a teen outreach group, and Judy (played by Edi Patterson) has just returned from her first concert tour. However, the church questions their new leadership as Jesse, Kelvin, and Judy struggle to work together as a united front.
Adding further complexity to the situation is the arrival of May-May Montgomery (Kristen Johnston), Eli’s sister, who is concerned about her sons Carl and Chuck (Robert Oberst and Lukas Haas), who have joined their father Peter (Steve Zahn), a religious militia leader with extremist views. The Montgomery and Gemstone families have had a contentious relationship spanning decades, and their clash intensifies due to the Montgomerys’ disapproval of the lavish lifestyle and worship style of the Gemstones.
What sets “The Righteous Gemstones” apart and makes it McBride’s finest work thus far is its exceptional balance between absurdity and genuine emotional depth. While both “Eastbound & Down” and “Vice Principals” had their moments of heartfelt storytelling, “The Righteous Gemstones” elevates this aspect to a central theme of the series. Season 3 delivers some of the most outrageous moments you’ll witness on television, featuring more male frontal nudity than you probably imagined was permissible, even on HBO. Yet, it is also a show capable of transforming someone driving a monster truck over excrement into an unexpectedly moving scene. The series has already excelled at blending madness with sentimentality, but Season 3 takes this accomplishment to even greater heights.
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The fact that “The Righteous Gemstones” achieves this while also being delightfully bizarre is a testament to its brilliance. This is particularly evident in the relationship between Judy Gemstone and her husband BJ (Tim Baltz). In this season, Judy cheats on BJ during her concert tour, engaging in passionate encounters with a band member. Their dynamic resembles what would happen if Tom and Shiv from “Succession” never matured beyond the mental age of 11. Judy’s infidelity becomes increasingly strange with each passing season, yet we still root for these characters to reconcile and emerge stronger on the other side.
One cannot discuss the peculiarity of “The Righteous Gemstones” without mentioning the unforgettable character of Baby Billy (Walton Goggins). Goggins steals every scene he appears in and effortlessly claims ownership of each moment. In a cast filled with eccentric individuals, Goggins remains the wildest and most hysterical character, turning even the simplest phrase into one of the funniest things you’ll ever witness. Just try watching this season without the phrase “Baby Billy’s Bible Bonkers” repeatedly playing in your mind. It’s a performance that continues to be side-splittingly hilarious, evoking a desire to run around the house with a pickle in your mouth.
Furthermore, Season 3 introduces new members to the Gemstone family, expanding the show’s horizons and presenting a wealth of possibilities. Steve Zahn portrays Peter, who could have been depicted as a complete lunatic, but instead, Gemstones portrays him as a sympathetic and tragic character who finds himself cornered with limited options. Similarly, Kristen Johnston delivers an equally exceptional performance, portraying a woman who may appear unhinged but ultimately reveals her role as a resilient mother and wife who has weathered the hardships of life and her faith. Haas and Oberst also shine as counterparts to the Gemstone children, two endearingly flawed individuals who simply want to do right by their parents. After being introduced to the Montgomery family, it is exciting to contemplate how McBride and his team can further develop this family tree, weaving natural storylines within this bloodline.
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While “The Righteous Gemstones” does a commendable job of providing hilarious and heartfelt story arcs for its primary characters, there are a few individuals who become overshadowed amidst the multitude of narratives the season explores. Jesse’s son Gideon (Skyler Gisondo) has a storyline that somewhat reduces his involvement in the overall plot but serves as a setup for potential significant developments in the future. Additionally, this season introduces a rival religious family led by Stephen Dorff, who competes with the Gemstones for the loyalty and wealth of Dusty (Shea Whigham), a former member of the Gemstones’ church who now questions the new leadership. While the competition between these families ultimately reaches a satisfying conclusion, it takes a backseat throughout most of the season, with the primary focus placed on the Gemstones versus Montgomery feud.
Season 3 of “The Righteous Gemstones” elevates one of the finest families and comedies on television to even greater heights. McBride has discovered the perfect blend for his style of comedy, allowing him to explore themes such as the price of wealth, the destructive choices that tear families apart, and the influence of faith in a manner that is both poignant and entertaining. Season 3 enhances an already exceptional comedy, and we can only hope that McBride continues this ingenious series for many years to come.