The series about a greedy family of TV preachers still packs raw humor with heart.
Also in the third season, the comedy series continues. The Righteous Gemstones charm with humor without salt with a heart. Now that Padre Familias Eli has retired, the family business of television preachers has a new challenge. Always bickering, Jesse, Judy and Kelvin would rather be in the spotlight individually than follow in their father’s footsteps together. Also, Eli’s estranged sister is reunited after her children join a cult run by her father, a sort of weather corps of Christian preparers. Meanwhile, Bad Uncle Baby Billy pesters the Gemstones with a bad idea for a game show.
The common thread between the various stories and flashbacks is a monster truck called the Redeemer. Set against eighties heavy metal, this overly rugged vehicle feels exemplary for series creator Danny McBride’s formula. Sometimes the jokes are as crude as this truck driving over things, and sometimes very adolescent too, as the many references to the phallus attest. But always full of sympathy for the characters, leading to a sentimental denouement full of family fun about the Redeemer in mothballs.
McBride and Jody Hill ensure smooth direction, with the camera always flowing at a nice pace. That sometimes makes for funny moments, for example, when the three kids confidently walk onto the stage in slow motion, but Kelvin suddenly comes back to kiss Keefe, as do the other two. As much as things can go wrong, The Righteous Gemstones he never goes for easy targets, such as the characters’ strict Christian beliefs.
This season, the family continues to expand with previously unknown members and pasts, with two new cousins making a fun duo. The clumsy Carl and the hanger-on Chuck constantly switch back and forth between mother and father in terms of loyalty. Even the best known characters are still having fun. McBride as Jesse now plays the standard role of him being a jerk. Edi Patterson laughs hilariously as Judy, turning comedy into farce in her case. Goodman, however, walks very calm, even more excited that his granddaughter Gideon suddenly sees him as a role model now that he is temporarily unable to work as a stuntman.
In this way, the family drama develops mainly from the conflicts of the characters themselves. The louder antagonists and the humor of the second season are omitted more. The eternal quarrels of the three children remain witty in all pettiness. Some story developments feel a bit forced, like the literal Biblical plague during a major moment. With everything at peace, however, when Jesse gets back to driving his Redeemer, it raises the question of how far there is still scope to unearth as yet unknown pieces of family history. In any case, the car provides the greatest joy this season.
The Righteous Gemstones can be seen in hbo max.