'The Righteous Gemstones' Takes Aim At Megachurches In The Most Hilarious Way

by Caila Smith
Originally Published: 
Fred Norris/HBO

If you’re like me, you’ve probably binge-watched everything worth watching during your many years of raising small babes. And still, you’re confined to the house watching re-runs of the same old, same old, some of which you’ve practically memorized. Well, if you like adult humor and can withstand some “language” without gasping or clutching your pearls, prepare to jump for joy. Because HBO’s series The Righteous Gemstones is the perfect pastime while folding the laundry and chugging your morning brew…. just make sure the kids are satisfied with their many snacks and their favorite YouTube videos before doing so. (As previously stated, there is much adult humor.)

Filmed and set in the heart of South Carolina, the Gemstone family are the pinnacle of modern-day Christian scam-artists, offering a hilarious and honest view on some of the 1% of evangelist pastors running multi-million and billion dollar churches today. You know the kind… those who boast to the poor about the importance of giving to the church while those in leadership receive a majority of the funds being given.

Yeah, those dirt bags.

Head of the church and head of the family, Dr. Eli Gemstone (John Goodman), appears to run a tight ship and a zero-tolerance-for-bullshit-policy with his church staff and family. But little does he know the chaos and heavy sin causing his children’s lives to spin out of control.

With Adam Devine starring as Eli’s youngest son and McBride directing the series and starring as the eldest brother, it’s no wonder The Righteous Gemstones is leaving viewers in stitches. But of course, no religious series is ever made whole without its typical stereotype of the pastor’s daughter. Dare I say it, Judy Gemstone (Black-ish star, Edi Patterson) is a crowd-pleaser, making the show complete with her mostly witty, sometimes crude, and always hilarious comebacks to “Daddy” and her brothers.

Through humor, the Gemstone family’s ways are shining a light on some of religious folks’ most common “hot button issues”… premarital sex, accepting the prodigal son, greed, and lukewarm Christians, to name just a few. Behind the scenes of their church altars, it seems the Gemstones toe a fine line between sharing the gospel to the people and conning the people. And let’s just say, it’s not too far-fetched to believe this is a modern-day scenario playing out all around us off-screen.

Churches are meant to be a place of worship, but with some altars resembling that of an inspiring concert, some megachurches have contorted it into a fountain of wealth for head pastors. According to a recent study, 31% of all national charitable donations went to religious organizations, accounting for a documented $127.37 billion donated in 2016.

Seeing as churches aren’t required to pay federal, state, or local income taxes, even a mere portion of these donations could be enough for one family to sustain themselves for many generations. To put myself out on the line, it’s fair to say certain megachurches have become a weekly charade for big and quick bucks versus a place of weekly praise. Money doesn’t grow on trees, no, but it does grow row-by-row in weekly collection plates. Even more so, I might add, after a service that has emotionally tugged on the heartstrings of many.

It doesn’t appear The Righteous Gemstones series is sending a message to folks to grab hold and never let go of their wallets during Sunday services. But the premise and plot does make one think twice about how their hard-earned money is being spent before tithing.

Season 1 of The Righteous Gemstones just wrapped up, but it’s already been renewed for Season 2. Hallelujah.

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