Review by Lauryn Angel
Animal Kingdom is the story of a secretive family whose members are full of secrets and whose extra-curricular behavior is composed of surfing, partying, and pulling of heists. The show’s emotional center is Joshua “J” Cody (Finn Cole), a seventeen-year-old who comes to stay with his grandmother, Jeanine “Smurf” Cody (Ellen Barkin), when his mother dies from an overdose. Whereas his grandmother welcomes J into the family, his uncles are not so welcoming, fearing J is a “narc.” Barry (Scott Speedman), the oldest brother, seems more willing to accept J, but he also seems weary of the lifestyle his younger brothers Craig (Ben Robson) and Deran (Jake Weary) embrace. The situation takes a sinister turn when J’s final uncle, Pope (Shawn Hatosy) is released from prison and resents finding J poised to take his place in the family.
The premise of the show is interesting enough, and the cast has some heavy-hitters. Unfortunately, the show ultimately isn’t very interesting. Most of this is due to the fact that the characters aren’t very well-developed. We get enough of an idea that Jeanine is a controlling mother to understand why her sons chafe under her authority, but in the very next scene, they cozy up to her in a way that at the best suggests stunted emotional growth, and at the worst, incestuous behavior. So far, the plot hasn’t moved far beyond the predictable, either. This dysfunctional family is held together by drugs, booze, and criminal behavior, but there’s nothing shocking here.