As ridiculous as “The Righteous Gemstones” Uncle Baby Billy may be, in Season 3 he’s enacting a lifelong goal for series star Walton Goggins: hosting a game show.
“It’s always been a dream of mine, to be quite honest with you, to have that that experience and to say like an opening monologue in front of an audience,” Goggins told TheWrap. In Season 3’s “For Their Nakedness Is Your Own Nakedness,” Uncle Baby Billy stumbles into his latest scheme, which involves hosting a game show called “Baby Billy’s Bible Bonkers.” As his family repeatedly points out, it’s exactly like “Family Feud,” expect it’s about the Bible.
“Of course leave it to baby Billy to watch an episode of ‘Family Feud’ and present this idea as if it’s his own only with a different subject matter,” Goggins said. “It’s just it’s so fun. This season, for me, was without some deep kind of emotional learning experience and really more about staying focused, staying on message.”
Goggins isn’t the only series star happy with his character’s Season 3 trajectory. After two seasons of acting as the Gemstone family patriarch, the third season sees Eli Gemstone (John Goodman) take a step back as he lets his kids take the wheel.
“I think Eli and myself are about the same point of life. We’d like to take things a little easier, and things happen that you just can’t step away from,” Goodman said.
“That’s the weird tragedy of these kids is that it’s very easy to talk shit when you’re sitting on the bench and be like, ‘Man, Eli doesn’t know what he’s doing.’ They get the opportunity to stand up on there, and they realize that it’s not as easy as they think,” series creator and star Danny McBride said of Season 3’s arc. “They’re so entitled and privileged that they have not been through any of the things in life that would equip them for that job. They haven’t paid their dues or learned from experience.”
Nepotism aside, “The Righteous Gemstones” has always been a show that’s felt more controversial than it actually is. Though the series serves as a scathing critique of a branch of Christianity defined by megachurches, neither Goodman nor McBride have noticed a significant amount of criticism from Christians.
Goodman credits the lack of backlash to the fact that his character is often “at the eye of the storm a lot of times, but I am not the eye of the storm.” But for McBride, the lack of response speaks to the larger themes of his HBO comedy.
“We’re not saying that this is what every church is like. I mean, you can’t deny that there’s not ministers out there that like fly around in private jets and wear $1,000 sneakers. You can open up social media, you can look on the TV, and those people are there,” McBride said. “For me, religion, it has nothing to do with what the joke of the show is. The butt of the joke are the people who are lining their pockets and using faith that as a way to enrich themselves, which I think anyone who’s religious would not really approve of using faith in that way. Even if someone is religious, I think they can watch this, and they can see that this type of person deserves to be mocked.”
New episodes of “The Righteous Gemstones” Season 3 premiere on HBO Sundays at 10/9c p.m.