Danny McBride, who co-created HBO series Eastbound & Down and Vice Principals, said he focused on protagonists “who believed they were owed something in life.” But his new show The Righteous Gemstones, which follows an opulent megachurch family, is about those “who get everything they want” and the damage that can be done.
“The goal isn’t to be a takedown of anything,” said McBride at TCA today. “When Hollywood takes on religion, they make the mistake of lampooning one’s beliefs.
“For us,” he continued, “it’s about lampooning hypocrites — people who present themselves in one way, an act differently in another. I don’t think that’s something that’s relevant [only] to the world of religion and televangelism but the world we live in: People who present themselves one way on social media and present themselves in another way.”
His hope is that Gemstones will go longer than Vice Principals’ two seasons and Eastbound & Down‘s four on HBO.
McBride said the new series — in which he stars as Jesse Gemstone alongside John Goodman, Edi Patterson and Adam Devine — isn’t based on one particular minister or televangelist dynasty, rather they’re “amalgamations,” much like his Kenny Powers character was a composite of disgraced athletes and celebrities.
McBride said that in the first pass of the script, the series followed a minister who has an affair and is trying to salvage his ministry against the Gemstones, who were going to be the bad guys. “Within three days of writing, it was the Gemstones who became more interesting,” said McBride, who also is the series’ EP and director. He reteams with his Foot Fist Way pal Jody Hill (who is EP and director here) and All the Real Girls directing bud David Gordon Green, both of whom worked on Vice Principals and Eastbound & Down.
Some of today’s panelists — which included Hill, Green, McBride, Goodman, Patterson, Devine and Cassidy Freeman — were asked to comment about their religion. McBride told the TCA corps that he grew up in a Baptist household. His aunt is a minister, and he wanted to create a series that she’d find humor in as well. “Ultimately, it’s not about taking a swipe at her or what she believes in,” said McBride, “but a show about a successful family who lost their path along the way.”
Devine told the press he was raised Catholic, and while growing up, he was “jealous of my friends who went to mega-churches. They had rock-climbing walls and got to play video games. All we had was a hard bench.”
The Righteous Gemstones’ nine-episode rookie season premieres at 10 p.m. Sunday, August 18.
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