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The Righteous Gemstones Season 3 Review: HBO's Divinely Good Comedy Is Better Than Ever

The Danny McBride series returns with a timely, bitingly funny critique of excess

Kyle Fowle
John Goodman, The Righteous Gemstones

John Goodman, The Righteous Gemstones

Jake Giles Netter/HBO

Early on in the third season premiere of HBO's The Righteous Gemstones, we get a thorough look at Zion's Landing, the luxurious, all-inclusive, gilded vacation spot run by the Gemstone family. It's the latest inclusion in their expanding empire, and it's indicative of the family, their morals, and the system that they work within. The Gemstones brand is one of excess and bombast; there's nothing subtle about their approach to religion or business.

The thing is, the Gemstones haven't always been that way. A flashback in the season premiere shows a moment when everything started to tip. It's the year 2000, and the Gemstones are hosting a monster truck rally under the church's name. A truck named "The Redeemer" is the star of the show. It's a rowdy, rambunctious affair, but not everyone is accepting of this creative direction for the church. Aimee-Leigh Gemstone (Jennifer Nettles), always the guiding light of the family, wonders, "What's next, we'll be serving beer?" before she hears the calls of a beer vendor walking through the stands. Eli (John Goodman) looks embarrassed, while his children look thrilled. This is the seeming tipping point, where Eli starts to put his humble beginnings behind him and focus instead on making as much money as possible under the Gemstone name while losing sight of whatever message he initially had to bring to the people.


The Righteous Gemstones


  • New characters are a great addition
  • The main ensemble still thrives
  • Thorny rivalries drive the action


  • We need even more Keefe!

What's great about the new season of The Righteous Gemstones is how focused it is on picking apart traditional institutions and exposing the hollowness at their core. The idea of the Gemstones having any sort of moral compass is a thing of the past, which was true even in the first season, but this new season takes it a step further, really using the family to criticize not only religion as a capitalist enterprise but also nepotism and the idea of failing upward. 

As the third season rolls on, the Gemstones come up against rival church families, the church board, and a backwoods prepper militia, all while navigating the return of an exiled family member. The result is something thornier and more complex than previous seasons. This season is particularly adept at balancing its raunchier comedy with something more scathing and pointed. As the Gemstone children begin having trouble running the business after their father's retirement, the show doubles down on its critique of the wealthy elite, and especially those who preach a certain moral code while failing to adhere to it in their own lives.

Danny McBride's shows have always felt timely in their own unique way, but the third season of The Righteous Gemstones might be the most in tune with the current moment. It's a hilarious and mordant satire of those who use their power and privilege to exact a moral vision that runs contrary to their own way of living. Sure, it's also a great ensemble comedy and continues to excel when the Gemstone kids are bickering with each other, but The Righteous Gemstones really shines when it's punching up with serious enthusiasm and insight. 

Premiered: Sunday, June 18 at 10/9c on HBO and Max
Who's in it: Danny McBride, John Goodman, Edi Patterson, Adam DeVine
Who's behind it: Danny McBride (Creator)
For fans of: Eastbound & Down, Brockmire, Curb Your Enthusiasm
How many episodes we watched: 4 of 10