The Righteous Gemstones – HBO Series Review

Posted by

All I knew about this series going into it was that it had John Goodman in it, and that it was about mega-churches and a family that ran one of them. I didn’t realize it had that typecast dude from Work-a-holics. I’m not a huge fan of the type of character they hire him to play and I may have opted out. I’m glad I went ahead with it anyway. This wasn’t exactly an amazing series I want to rave about to everyone I know – but it was entertaining and I watched it through to the end.

The main characters are the father and head preacher, John Goodman, and his three grown kids. The oldest, Jesse, is supposed to be the one taking over the ‘business’ as it were when Goodman retires… except he’s knee-deep in cocaine, prostitutes, and drinking.


The middle child, his daughter Judy, is probably the most exaggerated character. She’s sort of what it would be like to take older Tina Belcher from Bob’s Burgers and the main girl from the movie Superstar (lady who puts her hands in her armpits and smells them) and put them into a blender. She’s extremely awkward, very horny, and has no idea how to express any of her emotions in a healthy way.



The youngest is Kelvin and he’s trying to “live up” to his older brother’s example (no one in the family knows he’s snorting coke and motorboating hookers). He’s also extremely naive and is a stereotypical Christian homeschooled kid who thinks his Christian rock band is hard stuff.


These people run one of the largest mega-churches in the country, and they are starting to venture internationally. Their latest trip was to China to try and produce converts and start making money in China as well as the USA. Wherever they go, they cause smaller community churches to shut down because they suck up all the parishioners. Eventually, Jesse’s bad habits catch up to him, and someone gets him on camera doing drugs and hanging around strippers and threatens to out him unless he hands over millions of dollars. Jesse isn’t about to take that lying down and tries to fight back against his blackmailers. Insanity ensues.

The acting was pretty good overall although things were very over the top at points. The daughter Judy, in particular, had some insane scenes that stretched how far I could find something funny or entertaining. I was much more invested in Jesse’s son’s story, he was the most grounded character and seemed to deliver the most convincing acting. He and Jesse had a falling out and he had moved out of the house and has his own troubles.

This show doesn’t make fun of religion, per se. It’s much more critical of the way people in power in churches abuse their parishioners and become insanely rich off people who have very little. It also goes into how these mega-churches can suck the community out of an area by closing down small churches wherever they branch out to. If you’re religious/Christian I think you could still find this entertaining. If you belong to, donate to, or admire mega-churches and TV evangelists, maybe this isn’t the show for you.

This isn’t a show to watch if you want deep connections between characters, arcs where they learn something and change either for the better or for the worse. This is something to watch if you want to turn off your brain for a little while and laugh at some stupid shit.

My Score: 7/10