Animal Kingdom: Season 1/ Episode 1 [Series Premiere] – Overview/ Review (with Spoilers)

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Overview

After the death of one boy’s mother he finds himself living with the family she left behind, likely for good reason.

Rating:
Watch It

Trigger Warning(s):
Blood, Drug Use, and Guns

Characters Worth Noting

Smurf (Ellen Barkin) | Andrew (Shawn Hatosy) | Barry (Scott Speedman) | Joshua (Finn Cole)

Main Storyline (with Commentary)

For 11 years Josh was separated from his mother’s family. Something which seems rather strange as we see his mother’s overdose and then meet Smurf, Josh’s grandma. She seems sweet, southern ice tea sweet, and you begin to question why would Josh’s mom Julia ever take him away from such a person. Such a thought disappears though once you meet Julia’s brothers. All of which who have to at least be 30 but seemingly, outside of Barry (Baz), still like partying and causing havoc like they barely got past 21.

Leading you to question how Smurf has this big old house, and each boy claims to have one of their own. That is until you realize the lifestyle they live is far from clean. Especially as Julia’s twin Andrew (Pope) is released after 6 years for armed robbery. But what of Josh? What is his place going to be in this family of hoodlums? Well, that is the question. One on everyone’s tongue for one weak link will destroy everything that family has worked for, and neither Smurf nor any of her boys, really desire any jail visits.

Questions Left Unanswered

All things considered, how has this family, likely for decades, been surviving off of robbing banks and jewelry stores, and one person gets caught?

Review Summary

Highlights

Though Josh is a bit green, there is a sweetness to him that is very likable. He is a smart kid dealt with a bad hand when it comes to who his parents were, but with a grandmother like Smurf, he should likely have no need to beg for a maternal figure. Also, even with what Andrew gets him into, and what he does to his mom’s old drug dealer, there remains this innocence. One which, even as we see his girlfriend Nicky (Molly Gordon) talk like Josh is the bad boy, as she mounts him, seems almost un-taint able. Thus making all the trouble he is bound to get in so interesting. For you have to ask, what may break him?

Barkin as Smurf is a sight to see. I won’t pretend I’m familiar with her work at all, but damn if her performance doesn’t make me wonder where the hell have I been? As noted in the Josh praise, she has the sweetness of a southern bell yet, at the same time, I could imagine her taking a knife to someone’s throat and letting it rain. This duality is complex yet Barkin doesn’t make it seem Smurf is a two sided coin. No, Smurf is well-rounded and a woman of multiple hats. All of which seamlessly are transitioned into as Barkin plays the welcoming, yet foreboding, Cody family matriarch.

Of Smurf’s children, really the only one which stands out, and is played in such a way to be more than be complicated because he is someone’s dad, a corrupting influence, or “the cool uncle” is Andre ‘Pope.’ He is Julia’s twin and the man is outright off-putting. He doesn’t believe much in boundaries, hence why he carried Josh’s girlfriend to Josh’s bed, which used to be Pope’s, and set up a situation which looked suspicious. Then, on top of that, Uncle Pope decides to not only come into the bathroom while Josh showers but also has the boy steal a car for him. All the while, he almost seems a bit out of it. Not stoned out of his mind out of it, but like something in those 6 years of prison broke him a bit and while he is back together now, there are gaps in his person where air goes through. Also, it seems like something 6 years ago went on between Pope and Barry’s girl Catherine (Daniella Alonso). Another thing which brings a bit of interest since only 15 seconds separated Barry and Pope from having each other’s life perhaps.

Low Points

To me, Craig (Ben Robson) and Deran (Jake Weary) seemed like the generic type of thugs/ comic relief you’d find in a PG-13 action movie. Just with one of them getting shot and snorting drugs.

Questions, Comments, or Opposing Opinion?