There was a time when summer TV meant fun, light entertainment full of beautiful people and low stakes. Nowadays, not so much. Take TNT’s latest drama, Animal Kingdom, for instance. Sure, it has plenty of sun and surfing, but it also has plenty of drugs, violence, crime and one of the most dysfunctional families to ever grace television.
When Josh “J” Cody’s (Finn Cole) mother dies he ends up with the only family he has left; his grandmother (Ellen Barkin), dubbed Smurf, and his uncles. Who knows what J expected when he moved in with his grandmother, but I doubt it was to be immediately thrust into a life of crime.
Because J probably didn’t realize that his grandmother runs a criminal ring made up solely of her offspring: Baz (Scott Speedman), Craig (Ben Robson), Deran (JakeWeary) and the freshly released from prison and completely deranged Pope (Shawn Hatosy). And when this family isn’t committing crimes they’re getting into fights, taking copious amounts of drugs and routinely lying to each other.
So yeah, not the typical fare one usually associates with summer TV. But, it does have the most important ingredient of a show airing at any time of the year; it’s pretty damn exciting. The series premiered with two episodes back to back and the two hours never felt like overkill. This is the kind of show that could easily be binged. Unfortunately, the entire season isn’t available at once. We’ll just have to keep tuning in each week like a normal TV show. Boo.
Based on an Australian movie of the same name, Animal Kingdom feels like it has a lot more to say than just gratuitous sex and violence. With the Cody family currently serving as both the protagonists and antagonists of this story, the nature of family will be dealt with, along with an equally obvious theme of greed. But even if those “bigger” themes get pushed to the sidelines as the series continues, it’s still a hell of a lot of fun.
Final Verdict: Watch it. Or at least DVR it and binge it later.
*Animal Kingdom airs Tuesdays at 7/8c on TNT.
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