‘The Righteous Gemstones’ – Digging deeper into their hard heads

Get to know the grifting televangelist family

“The Righteous Gemstones” opens its second season Sunday on HBO.

The Season 1 finale of HBO’s “The Righteous Gemstones” saw Jesse Gemstone arriving in Haiti to assist son Gideon on a humanitarian mission. So in the second season, might we be seeing a more grown-up version for the televangelist family’s notoriously immature eldest son?

“I think that’s a fair assessment of where Jesse was at,” says the actor who plays him, Danny McBride. “But like all of us, growth takes time and even if you’re in Haiti to do a noble mission you still might need more work on yourself when you return home.”

The new season of the McBride-created, -produced and -written comedy arrives Sunday, Jan. 9, and finds the Gemstone clan continuing to put the grift on their megachurch’s flock as outsiders from the past and present set their sights on bringing down this shady empire.

The Season 2 storylines will also delve into the psyches of several of characters, among them family patriarch Eli, played by John Goodman.

“Part of the big concept this season is about where Eli comes from and about how far he’s willing to go,” McBride explains. “And that’s sort of some new territory that we’re getting into this season that we weren’t privy to last season. It’s just kind of unwrapping these layers of the Gemstone family and sort of showing who these people are for real and where they come from and how they got here.”

Also getting a substantial arc this season is Amber (Cassidy Freeman), Jesse’s loyal and doting wife. She gave him the boot in Season 1 after he showed her the blackmail video, and now she’s flying solo and feeling empowered.

Danny McBride stars in “The Righteous Gemstones,” which opens its second season Sunday on HBO.

“Amber gets to kind of choose how she wants to go forward in her marriage this season …,” Freeman explains. “And she also gets to choose how she wants to be with her family. You know, there was betrayal and regaining that trust and creating those bonds to come back together stronger than before … . So I think her journey this season is figuring out how to really stand by her family and create those alliances and become a team again.”

Other returning characters include Adam Devine as self-esteem-challenged youngest son Kelvin, Edi Patterson as underestimated middle child Judy, Skyler Gisondo as Gideon, Jesse and Amber’s estranged son, and Walton Goggins as Eli’s brother-in-law Baby Billy Freeman, who himself seemed to be in line for growth following a near-death experience in Season 1.

But don’t bet on it, says McBride.

“Like every member of this Gemstone clan, they all have a lot of growth to do. So just because they figure out one thing, you can almost be guaranteed that it will reveal something else that needs to be fixed next season.”

George Dickie

George Dickie has been a features writer for Gracenote/Tribune Media Services since 1989, when “Hee-Haw” was still on the air and George “Goober” Lindsay was his first interview. His early interviews ranged from Jim Henson and Dick Van Dyke to Phil Collins and the Dixie Chicks.

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