The Righteous Gemstones

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The Righteous Gemstones
Righteous Gemstones.jpg
Season 1 promotional poster
GenreBlack comedy
Created byDanny McBride
Starring
ComposerJoseph Stephens
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons2
No. of episodes18
Production
Executive producers
Producers
  • J. David Brightbill
  • S. Scott Clackum
Running time29–60 minutes
Production companyRough House Pictures
Release
Original networkHBO
Original releaseAugust 18, 2019 (2019-08-18) –
present (present)

The Righteous Gemstones is an American black comedy television series created by Danny McBride that premiered on August 18, 2019, on HBO.[1] The series follows a famous yet dysfunctional family of televangelists. It stars McBride, John Goodman, Edi Patterson, Adam DeVine, Cassidy Freeman, Tony Cavalero, Tim Baltz, Skyler Gisondo, and Walton Goggins. In September 2019, HBO renewed the series for a second season,[2] which premiered on January 9, 2022.[3] In January 2022, the series was renewed for a third season.[4]

Premise[edit]

The Righteous Gemstones depicts a family of televangelists and megachurch pastors led by widowed patriarch Eli Gemstone (John Goodman). Eli and his immature children, Jesse (Danny McBride), Judy (Edi Patterson) and Kelvin (Adam DeVine), lead opulent lives funded by church donations.

In the first season, Eli's estranged brother-in-law, Baby Billy Freeman (Walton Goggins), is brought in to lead the Gemstones' new shopping-mall-based satellite church, which leads to a conflict with Rev. John Wesley Seasons (Dermot Mulroney) whose smaller, neighboring church is threatened. Concurrently, a trio of masked figures blackmail Jesse with a scandalous video documenting the lewd behavior of him and his best friends.

In the second season, Jesse and Amber partner with Texas megachurch leaders Lyle and Lindy Lissons (Eric André and Jessica Lowe) to develop a Christian timeshare resort. The family faces threats including investigative journalist Thaniel Block (Jason Schwartzman), Junior (Eric Roberts) an old friend from Eli's criminal past, and a mysterious group of motorcycle-riding assassins.

Cast and characters[edit]

Main[edit]

  • Danny McBride as Jesse Gemstone, Eli's oldest son and associate pastor of the Gemstone Salvation Center. Although appearing to be a faithful father and husband, Jesse barely conceals a crude and arrogant personality and a debauched lifestyle, which he often partakes in with his "gang" of friends and subordinates.
  • John Goodman as Dr. Eli Gemstone, the patriarch of the Gemstone family and lead pastor of the Gemstone Salvation Center. Eli is a widower, having lost his wife, Aimee-Leigh, one year prior to the start of the series. Although not as greedy or as crude as his children, Eli does occasionally prioritize his own wealth and status over his ministry.
  • Adam DeVine as Kelvin Gemstone, Eli's youngest son and youth pastor of the Gemstone Salvation Center. He shares his mansion with his recent convert and friend, Keefe Chambers.
  • Edi Patterson as Judy Gemstone, Eli's daughter. Judy, the middle child, often feels underestimated by her family and is prone to neurotic and psychopathic behavior.
  • Tony Cavalero as Keefe Chambers, a dim-witted ex-Satanist and roommate of Kelvin, who works security at the Gemstone's church. Keefe reveres Kelvin as a spiritual leader.
  • Cassidy Freeman as Amber Gemstone, Jesse's supportive and loving wife, who seems mostly oblivious to Jesse's negative qualities
  • Skyler Gisondo as Gideon Gemstone, Jesse's oldest son, who moved to California to be a stunt performer, an act that Jesse considered to be a betrayal. Gideon is a skilled martial artist.
  • Walton Goggins as "Baby" Billy Freeman (season 1, recurring season 2), Eli's brother-in-law and brother of the deceased Aimee-Leigh Gemstone. A faded child star and frequent liar, Baby Billy is tapped to fill the pulpit at the Gemstone Prayer Center, a satellite church located in a mall. Baby Billy and Aimee-Leigh were a song-and-dance double-act as children, but Baby Billy's financial dependence and bad influence on Jesse and Judy strained his relationship with her and Eli. Baby Billy resides at his and Aimee-Leigh's childhood home, with his much younger wife, Tiffany.
  • Gregory Alan Williams as Martin Imari, Eli's right-hand-man and accountant.
  • Tim Baltz as Benjamin Jason "BJ" Barnes[5][6] Judy's sensitive and mediocre fiancé, and later, husband. He is often intimidated by Judy, although it's apparent that he really loves her. BJ works in an optometrist's office in a local grocery store.
  • Dermot Mulroney as Rev John Wesley Seasons (season 1), a pastor of a much smaller congregation, forced to compete with the Gemstones' new church in Locust Grove
  • Jennifer Nettles as Aimee-Leigh Gemstone, Eli's deceased wife and mother of Jesse, Judy, and Kelvin. Nettles portrays Aimee-Leigh in flashbacks and photographs.

Recurring[edit]

  • Jody Hill as Levi, a member of Jesse's "gang" and guitarist at the Gemstone Salvation Center
  • James DuMont as Chad, a member of Jesse's "gang"
  • Troy Anthony Hogan as Matthew, a member of Jesse's "gang"
  • J. LaRose as Gregory, a member of Jesse's "gang"
  • Valyn Hall as Tiffany Freeman, Baby Billy's much younger and childish wife
  • Kelton DuMont as Pontius Gemstone, Jesse's son
  • Gavin Munn as Abraham Gemstone, Jesse's youngest son
  • Scott MacArthur as Scotty (season 1), a stuntman and associate of Gideon's from Los Angeles
  • Mary Hollis Inboden as Mandy, wife, and later, ex-wife of Chad
  • Cullen Moss as Brock, a security guard at the Gemstones' family compound
  • Jade Pettyjohn as Dot Nancy, Dale and Gay Nancy's rebellious teenage daughter
  • Jason Schwartzman as Thaniel Block (season 2), an investigative reporter writing about the Gemstone family[7]
  • Eric Roberts as Glendon "Junior" Marsh Jr. (season 2), a mysterious figure from Eli's past who used to work in the world of professional wrestling[7]
  • Eric André as Lyle Lissons (season 2), a prominent Texas televangelist who wants to work with Jesse[7]
  • Jessica Lowe as Lindy Lissons (season 2), Lyle's wife and business partner

Guest[edit]

Episodes[edit]

SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
19August 18, 2019 (2019-08-18)October 13, 2019 (2019-10-13)
29January 9, 2022 (2022-01-09)February 27, 2022 (2022-02-27)

Season 1 (2019)[edit]

No.
overall
No. in
season
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateU.S. viewers
(millions)
11"The Righteous Gemstones"Danny McBrideDanny McBrideAugust 18, 2019 (2019-08-18)0.593[8]
The Gemstones are a family of televangelists and megachurch pastors led by widowed patriarch Eli and his children, Jesse, Judy and Kelvin. Jesse is blackmailed by two masked individuals to deliver $1 million within a week or they will release a video documenting the lewd behavior of him and his best friends at a private party. Jesse suspects that Reverend John Wesley Seasons is involved, as their planned megachurch expansion could put his church out of business. That night, Jesse and his henchmen infiltrate on Seasons' house but the plan goes awry when Seasons appears with a shotgun, wounding one of Jesse's henchmen and forcing them to flee. As he can't ask his father for money, Jesse eventually confesses the blackmail to Judy and Kelvin and they agree to help him, with Judy providing him with money she hid in their church. At a parking lot, Jesse forces one of the blackmailers to step out of the van and get the money from his own hand. He uses the opportunity to attack him, forcing the driver of the van to shoot at him. The Gemstone siblings flee in their van, running over the blackmailer. As the driver checks on the blackmailer, Jesse drives back to the lot and runs over the driver and they flee the scene.
22"Is This the Man Who Made the Earth Tremble"David Gordon GreenDanny McBrideAugust 25, 2019 (2019-08-25)0.594[9]
A third person was revealed to be in the van with the blackmailers, serving as the mastermind of the plan. He takes his wounded associates, Scotty and Lucy, to the hospital before moving to a hotel. Lucy eventually abandons them and a wounded Scotty fights with the leader, blaming him for the plan's failure. Realizing that a security camera filmed their encounter on the previous night, the Gemstone siblings decide to steal it, with Jesse sending his henchmen to attack the store owner and retrieve the footage. With the help of Kelvin's friend, they manage to track the location of the blackmailers to their hotel, but they are notified that they already left. The leader of the blackmailers then shows up at Jesse's house, revealed to be Gideon, his estranged son.
33"They Are Weak, But He Is Strong"David Gordon GreenDanny McBride & John CarcieriSeptember 1, 2019 (2019-09-01)[a]0.530[10]
Eli's estranged brother-in-law, "Baby" Billy Freeman, is brought into the family business in order to lead their newest shopping mall-based megachurch. Their plans are threatened when Seasons leaves pamphlets over the mall parking lot, slandering the Gemstones. Eli and Billy confront him at his church, which culminates when Eli shatters the church steeple's window. After a heated argument, Billy quits his position and intends to return to his home. Gideon starts to reconcile the family but Jesse remains angry at him for abandoning them for a life as a stuntman in Los Angeles. During a family dinner, tensions arise when Eli reveals that he knows his children view him in a negative light following his wife's death, Jesse's son Pontius makes rude remarks at his father, and Jesse expresses his anger at Gideon for his abandonment. After talking with his children, Eli decides to apologize to Billy and ask him to come back. As Billy and his much younger wife Tiffany take his belongings from the megachurch mall, a gang sent by Seasons arrives and starts vandalizing the sanctuary. Eli arrives and forces the gang to run naked in the mall in order to send a message to Seasons. Billy decides to stay with the family.
44"Wicked Lips"Jody HillJohn Carcieri & Jeff Fradley & Danny McBrideSeptember 8, 2019 (2019-09-08)0.562[11]
The wife of Jesse's friend Chad discovers compromising e-mails between her husband and Jesse. Kelvin and Keefe council the troubled teen daughter of a major donor. Gideon plans to steal from the church's vault. Driving back from smoothing things over with Chad's wife, Jesse spots the blackmailers' distinctive van. To his wife's horror, he causes them to roll the van. Jesse pursues them with a pistol, but the blackmailers escape without being recognized.
55"Interlude"David Gordon GreenJohn Carcieri & Jeff Fradley & Danny McBrideSeptember 15, 2019 (2019-09-15)0.560[12]
In a flashback to 1989, Eli's wife, Aimee-Leigh, announces she is pregnant for the third time. Her brother, "Baby" Billy Freeman had been planning a reunion tour for their childhood song and dance act, which Aimee-Leigh cancels due to her pregnancy. At Judy's birthday, an angry Billy gets young Jesse drunk and convinces him to fight with his father. When Aimee-Leigh confronts Billy about his behavior, Billy threatens to sell off pieces of the family farm, due to his financial hardships. Aimee-Leigh reluctantly agrees to do the tour, but quits in anger when she realizes Billy has already sold off parts of the land. Billy blames Eli and promises revenge.
66"Now the Sons of Eli Were Worthless Men"Jody HillGrant Dekernion & Danny McBride & Edi PattersonSeptember 22, 2019 (2019-09-22)0.469[13]
Jesse and his siblings search the blackmailers' van, but are unable to come up with any clues. When Scotty calls to threaten Jesse, Jesse deduces the blackmailers have no power and declares their problems over. Judy, disgusted by how her father never lets her do any meaningful work, agrees to sing at Billy's church. She performs well, despite her father's warning that Billy is using her to get back at him. Scotty, posing as an old friend of Gideon's, cons his way onto the estate.
77"And Yet One of You Is a Devil"Jody HillKevin Barnett & Chris Pappas & Danny McBrideSeptember 29, 2019 (2019-09-29)0.511[14]
Eli asks Jesse to give the Easter sermon and for Judy and Billy to perform. Billy convinces Judy to say no. Judy and her fiance BJ fight and he breaks off their engagement. Gideon backs out of the plan to rob the church. That night, Scotty takes Gideon, Jesse, and Eli hostage. He robs the vault, leaving Jesse and Gideon tied up inside.
88"But the Righteous Will See Their Fall"David Gordon GreenKevin Barnett & Chris Pappas & Danny McBrideOctober 6, 2019 (2019-10-06)0.610[15]
Billy and his wife Tiffany's car is struck by an escaping Scotty, who is knocked unconscious. They discover the stolen money and gun. When Scotty suddenly sits up, Tiffany panics and fatally shoots him. She and Billy flee town with the money. Gideon takes the blame for the robbery and is kicked out by his mother, Amber. Kelvin angrily kicks Keefe out of the compound. Judy attempts to reconcile with BJ, who refuses, causing her to angrily vandalize his coworker's car. She is arrested and bailed out by Eli. Jesse, guilt-ridden over Gideon, shows the sex tape to his wife and his friends' wives. Amber becomes enraged and shoots Jesse in the buttocks.
99"Better Is the End of a Thing Than Its Beginning"Jody HillJohn Carcieri & Jeff Fradley & Danny McBrideOctober 13, 2019 (2019-10-13)0.606[16]
The Gemstone children confess everything to Eli, who fires them from the ministry. Amber insists that Jesse go to Haiti to retrieve Gideon who is there doing missionary work, but he refuses to return home. Judy and BJ reconcile. Kelvin rescues Keefe from his Satanic former friends. The siblings deduce that it was Billy who stole the money from Scotty's van. Along with Eli, they go to Billy's home to retrieve it. During the confrontation, Billy is struck by lightning, but survives. He claims to have spoken with Aimee-Leigh in Heaven, who asked him to forgive Eli. He returns the money. Eli hires Rev. Seasons to take over Billy's post at the mall church, while Billy becomes a tent evangelist, making money describing his near-death experience. Jesse, who was kicked out of his house by Amber, goes to Haiti and joins his son on his mission trip.

Season 2 (2022)[edit]

No.
overall
No. in
season
Title [17]Directed by [17]Written by [17]Original air date [17]U.S. viewers
(millions)
101"I Speak in the Tongues of Men and Angels"David Gordon GreenDanny McBrideJanuary 9, 2022 (2022-01-09)0.291[18]
In 1968, a young Eli Gemstone works as a professional wrestler. Eli's employer, Glendon Marsh, and his son, Junior, agree to pay Eli extra to assault a man who owes Glen money. In the present day, Jesse and Gideon have returned to the US, with Jesse and Amber having reconciled and Gideon working as a videographer for the church. Judy and BJ have married, and Kelvin has started a Christian bodybuilders group. In the midst of multiple sex scandals rocking the megachurch world, Jesse and Amber are contacted by Lyle and Lindy Lissons, a Texan televangelist couple, to partner on a Christian resort called Zion's Landing. After touring the land, Eli refuses to lend his support, as it is too big a gamble during a volatile time for the church. After an argument with Jesse, Eli reluctantly allows for Jesse to go forward with the project. Eli is approached by Junior, and they reconnect before getting into a fight with a man in a restaurant parking lot.
112"After I Leave, Savage Wolves Will Come"Jody HillDanny McBride & John Carcieri & Jeff FradleyJanuary 9, 2022 (2022-01-09)0.190[18]
Thaniel Block, an investigative reporter researching hypocrisy in religious circles, arrives and informs Eli that he is writing a story about Aimee-Leigh, due to past allegations of abusive behavior from the Gemstones' staff. Eli refuses to cooperate. Jesse and Amber attend a fundraising event for Zion's Landing, only to find that the initial investment buy-in is greater than they can afford. After Eli informs the family about Block's story, Jesse, Judy and Kelvin decide to confront Block at his rental cabin. When they arrive, they find multiple dead bodies, including Block. Fleeing the scene, they are met by Eli and Martin. Noticing Eli has blood on his clothes, the kids suspect he may be involved in Block's murder.
123"For He Is a Liar and the Father of Lies"David Gordon GreenDanny McBride & Kevin Barnett & Chris PappasJanuary 16, 2022 (2022-01-16)0.327[19]
The Gemstones and Martin return to Thaniel's cabin, only to find it ablaze. Eli asks that the children keep their involvement with the situation to themselves, but, nevertheless, the Gemstones face public scrutiny for their proximity to Thaniel's death. The Gemstone children find circumstantial evidence regarding Eli and the night of Thaniel's death, as well as connections between Eli and Junior. They confront Eli, who asserts his innocence, claiming that the blood on his clothes was due to a grooming accident. Upset that their father might be starting to date other women, the children leave. Meanwhile, an accident involving Kelvin's "God Squad" leads to one of its members, Titus, challenging Kelvin's authority. When Eli attempts to break off his friendship with Junior, suspecting Junior may be involved in Block's murder, Junior claims he is now Eli's enemy.
134"As To How They Might Destroy Him"Danny McBrideDanny McBride & John Carcieri & Edi PattersonJanuary 23, 2022 (2022-01-23)0.289[20]
In 1993, Baby Billy abandons his wife, Gloria, and son, Harmon, in a mall. In the present, the Gemstones throw an extravagant baptism service and afterparty for BJ, who has only agreed to undergo the sacrament to please Judy. Resentful that Eli has refused to enable the God Squad's trip to the Holy Land, Kelvin's anger simmers for much of the proceedings. Tensions arise between Judy, BJ, and BJ's agnostic family during the afterparty, causing BJ to lash out at his sister, KJ, which embarrasses Eli in front of his wealthy and important guests. Meanwhile, Baby Billy, whose music career is making a small comeback following his "miraculous experience," grows weary of a now-pregnant Tiffany, and leaves the afterparty without her. As Eli is leaving the party, he is confronted by Kelvin. Their argument soon becomes a physical altercation, leading to Eli breaking Kelvin's thumbs. Jesse and Amber commandeer Eli's party-bus in the ensuing chaos, only to be later assaulted by masked gunmen while at a gas station.
145"Interlude II"David Gordon GreenDanny McBride & John Carcieri & Jeff FradleyJanuary 30, 2022 (2022-01-30)0.309[21]

In December 1993, Eli wishes to expand operations despite public scrutiny over his ministry’s finances. Glendon Marsh Sr. reconnects with Eli, promising to give him $1 million in exchange for letting Marsh launder his money through the church. Despite protestations from Aimee-Leigh and Eli’s senile father, Roy, Eli considers Marsh’s offer, but ultimately declines. Meanwhile, Baby Billy spends the holidays with the Gemstones, having convinced them that Gloria is at fault for their failed marriage. However, on Christmas Day, Aimee-Leigh confronts Baby Billy, leading him to admit that he left his family because he feels inadequate as a husband and provider. Hoping to cheer Baby Billy up, Eli offers him a performance spot on their televised Christmas special, which Baby Billy accepts. During the special, Eli announces that the ministry will nevertheless be expanding into a bigger building, despite still not having a stable source of income. That night, Marsh arrives on the compound, threatening to harm Eli’s family if he doesn’t agree to Marsh’s proposal. Suddenly, Roy appears and kills Marsh with a shotgun. Eli and Martin dispose of the body and take Roy back to his mansion.

In the present, Junior, implied to suspect Eli's involvement in his father’s disappearance, plots his next move.
156"Never Avenge Yourselves, But Leave It to the Wrath of God"Jody HillDanny McBride & John Carcieri & Jeff FradleyFebruary 6, 2022 (2022-02-06)0.288[22]
Jesse and Amber survive the attack at the gas station, with Amber returning fire and hitting one of the gunmen, whom Jesse dubs as "The Cycle Ninjas." Nevertheless, all the assassins flee. Amber is hailed as a hero by the congregation, which upsets Jesse. Kelvin has grown despondent following his embarrassing altercation with Eli. Keefe encourages him to re-establish dominance over the God Squad, but Kelvin fails to do so when one member, Torsten, challenges Kelvin for leadership of the group. Keefe, acting in Kelvin's stead, and Torsten compete in a contest of strength, which Keefe quickly loses. Torsten assumes the role of leader, and Kelvin is forced to do menial labor for the Squad. After a heartfelt conversation with BJ, Eli attempts to mend his relationship with Kelvin, but Kelvin refuses to engage, believing that Eli will never take him seriously. Meanwhile, Jesse forms a new men's group, hoping to use them as backup in an eventual confrontation with Junior. Jesse and the group do manage to find and threaten Junior, but he seems mostly unfazed by their warnings. Later, Eli is harassed and shot by the Cycle Ninjas, causing him to crash his car.
167"And Infants Shall Rule Over Them"Jody HillDanny McBride & John Carcieri & Jeff FradleyFebruary 13, 2022 (2022-02-13)0.280[23]
Eli is comatose and in critical condition following the Cycle Ninjas' attack. BJ, Judy and Tiffany track Baby Billy's recent credit card history, eventually finding him selling fraudulent supplements. Baby Billy claims to be raising money for his unborn son, and accuses Tiffany for not trusting him before abandoning her again. Meanwhile, Jesse confides with Martin that he fears Eli's eventual death or resignation, as he doesn't truly believe he is capable of leading the church. As Martin consoles him, the two begin to construct a plan of attack against the Cycle Ninjas. Eli is moved back to the compound, while the Gemstone children publicly disinform the congregation that he is still recovering in the hospital, hoping to lure the Cycle Ninjas into a trap. However, Jesse angrily dismisses his private security detail after a misunderstanding, leaving only himself, Martin, BJ and Gideon left to ensnare the Cycle Ninjas. The assassins arrive, and Jesse is able to incapacitate two, as Gideon pursues the others. As Gideon successfully runs the remaining assassins off the road, Eli wakes up from his coma.
178"The Prayer of a Righteous Man"David Gordon GreenDanny McBride & Grant Dekernion & Jeff FradleyFebruary 20, 2022 (2022-02-20)0.592[24]
In 1993, Glendon Marsh Sr. retires, allowing Junior to take over the business. However, as soon as Junior has proved himself capable of filling his father's shoes, Marsh Sr. robs him and skips town. In the present, Baby Billy decides to visit a now-grown Harmon, hoping to make amends for his absence as a father. Harmon is resistant to Baby Billy's efforts, but does accept punching Baby Billy in the face as an acceptable means of reconciliation. Meanwhile, a recovered Eli praises and thanks his family for their actions during his convalescence, which in turn prompts Kelvin to regain control of the God Squad (which he then disbands) and Judy to accept Tiffany as a member of the family. Eli also gives his blessing and financial support to Jesse to pursue Zion's Landing. Later, Eli confesses the truth about Marsh Sr. to his children, and tells them his plans to confront Junior in order to end the conflict. Despite the children's protests, Eli carries out his plan. After learning the truth, Junior forgives Eli, but tells him that he wasn't behind the Cycle Ninjas. Later that night, the Cycle Ninjas escape from jail.
189"I Will Tell of All Your Deeds"Jody HillDanny McBride & John Carcieri & Jeff FradleyFebruary 27, 2022 (2022-02-27)0.402[25]

In a flashback, Lyle Lissons feeds compromising information on other televangelists to Thaniel Block, in order to thin out competition. However, he refuses to divulge any information on the Gemstones, fearing it would put Zion’s Landing at risk. Frustrated, Thaniel threatens to expose Lyle next. Lyle and some associates attempt to intimidate Thaniel with grenades, leading Block to open fire on them. Gunfire and explosions ensue. Thaniel is killed by a ricocheting bullet, and two of Lissons’ men are killed in a grenade blast. Lissons hides as the Gemstones arrive on the scene, and later burns Thaniel’s cabin and his remaining associates to hide the evidence of his involvement.

In the present, the Gemstones attend the groundbreaking ceremony for Zion's Landing. Baby Billy arrives at the reception, hoping to repair his relationship with Tiffany. However, Tiffany gives birth to their son in a port-a-potty before she can give him an answer. During the reception, Eli receives a call from Junior, who has traced the Cycle Ninjas' weapons back to Lissons. Lyle privately confesses everything to Jesse, including that the Cycle Ninjas are teenagers from Lisson's orphanage. Lyle and Jesse fight on the beach before Lindy arrives, threatening the entire family at gunpoint. The Lissons successfully escape. One month later, the Gemstones have taken control of the Zion's Landing project. Tiffany and Baby Billy have reconciled, and Kelvin and Keefe have begun a youth fitness program. Martin hires the Cycle Ninjas, who are angered that they were never paid by Lyle, to track the Lissons to Alaska, where they kill Lindy and force Lyle into the tundra, where he freezes to death and is eaten by wolves.

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

On June 28, 2018, it was announced that HBO had given the production a pilot order. The episode was written and directed by Danny McBride who is also executive producer alongside Jody Hill and David Gordon Green.[26][27] On October 2, 2018, it was reported that HBO had given the production a series order.[28]

On July 1, 2019, it was announced that the series would premiere on August 18, 2019.[1] On September 9, 2019, the series was renewed for a second season.[2]

On January 25, 2022, HBO renewed the series for a third season.[4]

Writing[edit]

McBride has said he intends the series to run "longer than anything we've done before," including the four-season Eastbound & Down and the two-season Vice Principals. "If I had my way, when this is done, it's like this epic, sprawling tale, like the fucking Thorn Birds or something," he told Polygon. "You’ll know everybody in this family, cousins, great uncles, all these people. In my eyes, this season is chapter one. It’s just setting the table for who all these people are and what's about to happen."[29] Like McBride's previous television characters, the Gemstones have "an inflated sense of self." McBride comments, "To me, the idea of a minister that sees themself as bigger than God just feels like the ultimate display of that."[30]

For the second season, Eli's backstory was inspired by the Dixie Mafia and the Memphis professional wrestling business, two subjects that have long fascinated McBride. He has stated that the Gemstones were originally inspired by Mafia families and that Eli's gangster background informs how the character runs his church in the present. He draws a parallel between wrestling and televangelism in that both businesses are built around "showmanship" and maintaining "kayfabe".[30]

Casting[edit]

Alongside the pilot order announcement, it was confirmed that Danny McBride and John Goodman would star in the pilot.[26] In July 2018, it was announced that Edi Patterson, Adam DeVine, Cassidy Freeman, Tony Cavalero, and Tim Baltz had also joined the pilot's main cast.[31][32][33] In May 2021, Jason Schwartzman, Eric Roberts and Eric André joined the cast in recurring roles for the second season.[34]

Filming[edit]

Principal photography for the pilot was completed in August 2018 in Charleston, South Carolina at Citadel Mall.[35] The North Charleston Coliseum served as the interior of Gemstone Ministries, while a former Sears store at Citadel Mall was re-purposed into the Locust Grove Worship Center. (The new church being a former Sears was kept and referenced in the series). In April 2021, HBO confirmed the second season had gone into production,[36] having continued to film mainly in Charleston.[37]

Music[edit]

The series is composed by Joseph Stevens, who has collaborated with McBride on his previous television series. An original song "Misbehavin'" became a viral hit after its debut in the episode "Interlude". Performed by Jennifer Nettles and Walton Goggins as their characters Aimee-Leigh and Baby Billy, "Misbehavin'" is the fictional Freeman siblings' most popular song which they performed as children in the 1960s and reprised as adults in 1989. The song was written by McBride, co-star and co-writer Edi Patterson, and composer Stevens, who designed it to mimic a wholesome, old-time country song but with absurd lyrics such as "Runnin' through the house with a pickle in my mouth".[38]

Release[edit]

On December 24, 2018, a "first look" still image from the series was released featuring Danny McBride, John Goodman, and Adam DeVine as Jesse Gemstone, Eli Gemstone, and Kelvin Gemstone, respectively.[39] The series premiered on HBO on August 18, 2019.

Reception[edit]

Critical response[edit]

For the first season, the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 75% approval rating with an average rating of 7.1/10, based on 65 reviews. The website's critical consensus reads: "Though it may not win many new converts, fans of Danny McBride will find much to praise in The Righteous Gemstones's darkly hilarious pews."[40] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the season a score of 67 out of 100, based on 20 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[41]

For the second season, Rotten Tomatoes reported a 93% approval rating with an average rating of 7.4/10, based on 14 reviews. The website's critical consensus reads: "The Righteous Gemstones' second season can be as messy as its title characters, but it's hard to complain when the results are this uproariously funny.[42] Metacritic assigned the season a score of 83 out of 100, based on 10 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[43]

Accolades[edit]

Year Ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result Ref.
2020 Satellite Awards Best Musical or Comedy Series The Righteous Gemstones Nominated [44]
Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy Series Danny McBride Nominated
Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Miniseries or TV Film Walton Goggins Nominated

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Episode 3 was first made available on August 30, 2019 through HBO's digital platform.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Comedy Series "The Righteous Gemstones" Debuts Aug. 18 on HBO". The Futon Critic. July 1, 2019.
  2. ^ a b Petski, Denise (September 9, 2019). "'The Righteous Gemstones' Renewed For Season 2 By HBO". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on September 10, 2019. Retrieved September 9, 2019.
  3. ^ Iannucci, Rebecca (November 5, 2021). "The Righteous Gemstones to (Finally!) Return in January — Watch New Teaser". TVLine.
  4. ^ a b Iannucci, Rebecca (January 25, 2022). "The Righteous Gemstones Renewed for Season 3 at HBO". TVLine. Retrieved January 25, 2022.
  5. ^ Barnett, Kevin &; Pappas, Chris &; McBride, Danny (writer); Hill, Jody (director) (September 29, 2019). "And Yet One of You is a Devil". The Righteous Gemstones. Season 1. Episode 7. Dialogue occurs at 20:21. HBO. Archived from the original on September 30, 2019. The Righteous Gemstones (2019) s01e07 Episode Script. Retrieved September 30, 2019. [JUDY] Benjamin Jason! If you leave like this, it's over.
  6. ^ Carcieri, John &; Fradley, Jeff &; McBride, Danny (writer); Hill, Jody (director) (October 13, 2019). "Better Is the End of a Thing Than Its Beginning". The Righteous Gemstones. Season 1. Episode 9. Dialogue occurs at 24:46. HBO. Archived from the original on October 15, 2019. The Righteous Gemstones (2019) s01e09 Episode Script. Retrieved October 14, 2019. [BJ] BJ Barnes. I'm known.
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