The Righteous Gemstones: Favorite Moments from Season 1 as We Prep for Season 2

Kelvin, Jesse and Eli on stage pointing upwards in The Righteous Gemstones
Photograph by Ryan Green/HBO

It’s been a long two and a half years since The Righteous Gemstones graced our screens. In preparation for Season 2, which premieres on HBO with two episodes on January 9th 2022, I thought it was a good time to revisit the first season. One of my favorite things about this show is how it lets jokes linger and calls back to them later, so I present to you here a few of my favorite moments from The Righteous Gemstones Season 1, to bask again in their glory and to refresh our collective memory in case they are referenced in Season 2.

I’ve realized as I built a list that it is primarily focused on Jesse, which I suppose is only fitting given that he’s played by Danny McBride, but let me know your favorite jokes from The Righteous Gemstones in the comments regardless of what character they feature. Surely there is a list of best Judy moments that I have simply failed to write.

Car Pranks

You’ll recall that Season 1 centers around Gideon and Scotty attempting to extort money from Jesse, and the way they drive Scotty’s rather distinctive van. I’m sure you’ll also further remember this joke, as Jesse decides to speed after the van one night to try to find out who is blackmailing him, but insists to his wife Amber that it’s just some guys he does car pranks with.

Amber sits in front of a bar with her hands clasped, wearing a leopard print dress and looking concerned
Photograph by Ryan Green/HBO

He sticks to the line into the next day, even as she questions the idea that it makes any sense, but that’s not my favorite part of the gag. That would be when in Episode 7 Scotty drives his van into the compound and happens to be observed by Keefe, who’s out wandering around being Keefe, and he shrugs it off.

Keefe stands in front of a building, holding an ice cream cone
Photograph by Ryan Green/HBO

“Car pranks.”

I Love My Bi Son

It’s also in Episode 7 when Gideon tries to confess to his father about the schemes he’s been involved in with Scotty, only for Jesse to conclude that he’s gay. Gideon doesn’t get the chance to correct this misunderstanding until later, but the hilarious thing is how even then he doesn’t.

When he says that he’s only looking for female fishes, his parents land on the idea that he’s bi. I’m still not sure this is cleared up by the end of Season 1, in fact, which makes me wonder if it will recur in Season 2.

Plus, “I love my bi son” feels like a call out to Heathers to me, though I have no evidence that this was intentional.

Jesse holds a clenched hand in the air while wearing a headset mic in The Righteous Gemstones
Photograph by Fred Norris/HBO

The “We Did It” Coins

Early on in Season 1, when the gang thinks they have successfully gotten out of being extorted, Jesse’s friend Gregory makes them all special coins to celebrate. Or, rather, he has them made presumably.

But as Jesse points out, it is an absolutely terrible idea for them all to have these coins that say “We Did It” when they are trying to pretend to be innocent. Though the real risk was probably minimal, Jesse’s rant is indelible.

The best part comes later, though, after Jesse has more successfully dispatched with their would be blackmailer (Scotty) and assembles the group on a pier. Gregory is ecstatic to learn that he’s kept the coins, only to have his spirits crushed when Jesse insists they proceed to throw them in the water. He hesitates before finally dropping it limply in, making a sad face.

Gregory and others standing in a tire shop
Photograph by Ryan Green/HBO

We did it!


When Mandy reads her husband Chad’s emails detailing what happened in Atlanta, Jesse insists that they were just joking about the movie ATL. The hilarious thing to me is while I absolutely did not know this movie existed before watching The Righteous Gemstones, it is very much a real movie with a real IMDb page that Jesse actually reads from. I still haven’t seen it, so I don’t know how much deeper this joke might go.

“Get the door! I’m praying God damn it!”

It’s not a huge gag, or significant to the plot, but for some reason as I rewatched The Righteous Gemstones Season 1 one of the times I laughed the hardest was in Jesse yelling “god damn it” as he complained about his prayers being interrupted. It really exemplifies how The Righteous Gemstones brings together the religious and the debauched. I won’t dare to say the sacred and the profane.

The show never mocks Christianity, however, and that’s part of what I love about it. The Gemstones feel like genuine people, even if they are riddled with contradictions. Who isn’t?

Kelvin (Adam Devine), Jesse (Danny McBride), Eli (John Goodman) and Baby Billy (Walton Goggins) perform in their new mall church alongside a choir, in front of an extravanant temple backdrop.


“Interlude” may be my favorite episode of The Righteous Gemstones Season 1. It’s a testament to the show that it’s able to carry itself so well in the absence of so many of its major actors, and that the younger versions of Jesse and Judy manage to do such a good job at being the same characters as their adult counterparts.

It’s also the first taste we get of the absolutely wonderful, toe-tapping song, “Misbehavin’”—first performed by Baby Billy and Aimee-Leigh as adults, but then again playing over the credits as performed by children.

This all brilliantly sets up the stakes of Judy coming to perform the song with Baby Billy in the following episode, but moreover “Misbehavin'” manages to be funny and poignant at the same time. It perfectly embodies the tone of The Righteous Gemstones overall—it’s silly, sad, dark and hilarious, sure, but also a meaningful reflection on the human condition.

After the nine episodes of the first season, I’ve come to love these crazy Gemstones, and I can’t wait to see what happens in Season 2.

Written by Caemeron Crain

Caemeron Crain is Executive Editor of TV Obsessive. He struggles with authority, including his own.

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