Comedies don’t typically include a body count. But right from the beginning, The Righteous Gemstones has defied a lot of expectations. Not only has the HBO series, created by Danny McBride, taken on the often tricky topic of religion, specifically Christianity as preached by a megachurch family, but it’s done so with its own unique blend of pitch-black comedy and serious stakes.
“I wouldn’t say we are like Game of Thrones, where someone dies every week,” Edi Patterson, who plays Gemstone daughter Judy, tells Consequence in a recent Zoom interview. “But anything can happen, that’s for sure,”
“Wealth and power give these bigger stakes to a family drama, a family comedy,” adds Tim Baltz, who plays Judy’s ever-loyal partner.
“I’d be so upset if Judy ever died,” says Patterson.
Now returning for a second season, The Righteous Gemstones continues to track the Gemstone family as it attempts to expand its Christian business interests, even while new threats emerge to their empire. No spoilers, but in the new episodes screened for critics, things get pretty intense, with a lot more violence and a ticking-up of that aforementioned body count.
Patterson is also a writer on the show, which means she’s more aware than most of when a rough moment is coming. “But the direction of the show is so big and like a movie that when I see the violence that I already know is coming, every time it blows my mind and it shocks me.”
This has been true even from the beginning, specifically the ending of the series premiere, when two would-be blackmailers get brutally run over in a parking lot. “I knew that was coming, I filmed the scenes,” she says. “But it still made me scream. I think that’s a really special thing about the show, honestly — that you get these feelings over and over like, I can’t believe they’re doing that.”
Baltz, says it’s a tribute to the way that the creative team, including McBride and executive producers Jody Hill and David Gordon Green, work. “It’s their own formula, their own alchemy of marrying all of those things together — going from that violence, that stakes or drama, to the very silly type of humor that they have that can be light, or vulgar, or aggressive, or unique and in its own rhythm.”