This comedic talent, whimsy, wackiness, and raunchiness of Danny McBride has delivered the goods for over 15 years. I could go on about how great he is in the voice-acting world, from lending his voice to such animated classics as Despicable Me 2, The Mitchells vs. The Machines, The Angry Birds Movie, The Angry Birds Movie 2, Sausage Party, and Kung Fu Panda 2.
We can mention the numerous comedic gems like Hot Rod, Superbad, The Land of the Lost, Tropic Thunder, Drillbit Taylor, Pineapple Express, This Is the End, etc. But after a full binge of all episodes of Eastbound and Down, Vice Principals, and The Righteous Gemstones, it is clear to see that HBO loves McBride. He also has starred, executive produced, wrote, directed, and created all of these shows.
Eastbound and Down (2009-2013) follows Kenny Powers, a disgraced baseball player forced back to his hometown and becomes a substitute PE teacher at the middle school he once attended. Kenny Power’s a bit reckless and a loose cannon of language, sex, bad-mouthing, drugs, and steroids. He is extremely confident that he can reclaim his baseball career and win back the woman who got away. His brother tries to get him to change his outlook on life but to no avail.
Powers goes on a whirlwind journey that includes faking a death, traveling to Mexico, and reuniting with his estranged father as we see the origins of the Powers persona, car dealership antics, and a sports talk show fiasco. This show punched the redemption story trope in the chest, but Powers comes around eventually. McBride tapped into his comedy potential. You can expect excessive language, nudity, beautiful women, drinking, and wild pranks and pratfalls. He enters a new way to tell stories without the limits of network television.
Vice Principals (2016-2017) is by far my favorite of the three shows. I love the fact it takes place in a high school, and it showcases the inner workings of the teachers and their day-to-day lives. Vice Principals features a stellar cast consisting of Walton Goggins, Busy Phillips, the incredibly stunning Georgia King, Shea Whigham, Dale Dickey, Edi Patterson, Kimberly Hebert Gregory, and a delightful cameo from Bill Murray. The series follows two egotistical yet driven vice-principals, Lee Russell (Goggins) and Neal Gamby (Mcbride), vying for the principal throne. Bill Murray’s character doesn’t think either of them is capable of such power when he retires, so he hires an outsider. She is competent, but the duo scheme to overthrow her.
It is ironic that these two are good at their jobs yet only are doing it for ultimate power. It makes for some great comedy as they try to rule over their colleagues, teachers, students, and lunch personnel. McBride and the rest of the cast knock it out of the park, showcasing the education system’s underdogs wrapped in a comedic canvas.
The Righteous Gemstones (2019-present) is McBride raising the bar and challenging himself as an actor. This show follows a family of immensely successful televangelists and megachurch pastors who are trying to spread the word of God around the world. Back in the day, their mission was wholesome, but when the wife of the patriarch Eli Gemstone (John Goodman) dies, the mission begins to take a turn as the kids use the purpose of the megachurch to make money. You can tell the true intentions of the gemstone family are shrouded in deception and lack of sincerity and authenticity. Eli’s brother-in-law hatches a revenge scheme, and Jesse Gemstone’s(McBride) son Gideon, played by Skyler Gisondo, attempts to topple the Gemstone empire.
As a man of faith myself, I did not find this show offensive. It has moments of drugs, partying, greed and nudity, but it sheds light on how people can use the Word of God and the teachings of Christianity for their nefarious purposes. We see the actions of the Gemstones reach a boiling point, and a reckoning arrives. What McBride does is show how the family lost its way and how they find their way back. We’ll see more of their story when The Righteous Gemstones aires its second season in January 2022.
Danny McBride has made quite a career in supporting and starring roles in animation, television, and movies. What impressed me was how he helped bring to life three shows with a different setting but varying levels of comedic intensity. He demonstrated his ability to transcend genre when he joined forces with David Gordon Green to reintroduce the Halloween franchise in 2018. McBride continues to raise the bar, and I look forward to what he does next.