There are no secrets within this family….
Animal Kingdom is a new TV series that will begin airing on TNT on June 14th. However, the network is offering the pilot episode right now via Amazon Prime. Of course this series appears to be misnamed as it deals chiefly with people rather than four-footed creatures who are a part of the real animal kingdom.
Yes, it is true – that some people are more animal-like than we might expect or even like. But hey, that’s life. This series begins with a tragedy as in the pilot’s first minute. A young man sits on a couch and next to him is a woman, his mother, who has apparently OD’ed on heroin. He’s waiting for the EMS to arrive.
The young man is called J, which is short for Josh Cody. He is played by Finn Cole. You may have seen him in the series called Peaky Blinders. J now has no choice but to contact his maternal grandmother, even though his mother had been estranged from her own mother, and they hadn’t seen each other in years, in the hopes that she will be able to take him in.
So J is going to live with his grandmother and his uncles. The setting is Oceanside, CA, which is about 2/3’s of the way south from Los Angeles to San Diego. Oceanside is south of San Clemente, south of the Marine Base at Camp Pendleton, and just north of Carlsbad, CA. This is So-Cal to a T. So what can we expect?
Surfing, smoking, sex, snorting, and of course – stealing. This isn’t your standard issue So-Cal family nor is ‘Grandma’ anything like what you have seen on TV or the movies. In Animal Kingdom, she’s called Janine ‘Smurf’ Cody, and Ellen Barkin has the role. In short, she’s the matriarch of a free-wheeling criminal enterprise.
It doesn’t take J very long after greeting his relatives to notice his surroundings. Lots of new cars and trucks, huge flat screen TV’s, boats, jet skis, and even big wads of money are present and in plain sight. J is assigned to Pope’s room.
‘Pope’ whose real name is Andrew Cody, is the eldest of J’s uncles, and he’s somewhere, but we aren’t told where. That is until Pope shows up the next day. Pope is played by Shawn Hatosy (Fear the Walking Dead, Bosch, and Southland). He’s just been released from prison. And for sure he is a scary presence.
Let’s meet J’s other uncles: First there’s Craig Cody played by Ben Robson. He’s big and brawny, and on J’s first night at Grandma Cody’s, we find that Craig has spent the night with not one but two bimbos.
The second uncle is Deron Cody played by Jake Weary. He’s the youngest of the siblings, and he’s really just a younger and smaller version of his older brother Craig.
The third ‘uncle’ is not really a blood uncle. His name is Barry ‘Baz’ Blackwell played by Scott Speedman. I’m not sure about how and why he fits in, but he appears to be the ‘brains’ of the uncles.
Together, these uncles, along with Pope (serving as a counterpoint) are going to teach J the ropes. The uncles are imposing and somewhat frightening collectively, but maybe not so much (again Pope as a counterpoint), individually.
So it is into this family that J has arrived. It is something of a rebirth for him. I expect it won’t be long before J graduates up from a bicycle to some with four wheels. I think we can expect to see him wielding a hand-gun.
And I suppose it won’t be long before we watch the uncles pull off a major crime.
Welcome to So-Cal. This isn’t the family that prays together. Rather it looks like a gang that takes on prey together. Will J fit in? Will he quickly graduate from being a 17-year-old high schooler to a felon?
It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to see where this series is headed.
Actually, the series is adapted from the 2010 Australian film, also called Animal Kingdom. That film was popularly received (I didn’t see it) and had an impressive cast which included Jacki Weaver as Smurf, and also included Joel Edgerton (The Great Gatsby and Zero Dark Thirty) as Barry, Sullivan Stapleton (The Blindspot) as Craig, Ben Mendelson (Bloodlines) as Pope, and Guy Pearce as the detective.
I’d say that the series has the makings of a good watch on its own. And if we consider the foundation (the film), the series has a terrific chance of being a summer hit.
TNT will be rolling out 10 episodes beginning on June 14th. So even if you aren’t a member of Amazon Prime, you will be able to see the pilot and the first episode called “We Don’t Hurt People” on June 14th, which is Tuesday of next week.
By the way, TNT is ad-sponsored TV, so there is the thought that the violence, sex, and language may be tamped down a bit, but that will be revealed as the series plays out.
Here is the trailer for the series: