Television: Animal Kingdom

5 Reasons to Binge TNT's Series Animal Kingdom on Amazon

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Television: Animal Kingdom


5 Reasons to Binge TNT’s Animal Kingdom on Amazon Prime’s Now.


1- The Story. Animal Kingdom is a horrible name for a show in my opinion, but only because it doesn’t divulge even a hint of what this great show is about. You scroll through and think it’s another ZOO, or some nature show. You couldn’t be more wrong. Animal Kingdom is about a family that pulls large heists together. Inspired by the Australian film of the same name, which starred such high caliber actors as Joel Edgerton and Ben Mendelsohn, the series was developed for television by Jonathan Lisco and power producer John Wells. Wells also brought the Showtime hit series SHAMELESS over from the UK. But I digress. Animal Kingdom follows a seventeen-year-old, who’s forced to move in with his Grandmother after his mother overdoses on heroin. Once in the house, he discovers that his four uncles are all master thieves, trained and controlled by their tough as nails Mother (Grandmother). They slowly bring the teenager into the fold, and he’s left deciding between staying with the criminal family that turned their backs on he and his mother, or bringing them all down.

2-  Ellen Barkin. As the crime boss/matriarch of the family, Barkin is great. I’ve never really been a fan of her work, but in this she’s truly a hardass devious woman. She controls five grown men through a perfectly balanced mix of love and fear. She’s quick to punish them when they make mistakes, but she’ll also defend them with her life if the need arises. At the beginning, she helps pick and plan the jobs. Nothing can move forward without her approval, and over time this control begins to fester, threatening to tear the tight knit family apart. She’s a skilled con artist, manipulating the five men in the house, and turning them against one another whenever it best suits her needs. Barkin demands respect in this role. She’s not to be trifled with.

3- Shawn Hatosy. Shawn has been a solid character actor forever, but in the role of Andrew “Pope” Cody, he elevated his game to another level. The last time i was impressed by him was as serial killer Boyd Fowler in Dexter. Maybe, he just excels at creepy roles. Either way, this performance blows his short Dexter stint away. In Animal Kingdom Hatosy plays the recently released from prison eldest brother. He’s dealt with some form of mental issue, I’m guessing he’s bipolar, that prevents him from sleeping, and makes him very awkward emotionally. Whether it’s the time spent in prison, or the mental problem, Pope has an easier time killing someone than he does hugging them. He’s the son that Barkin’s character has always depended on to do the dirtiest deeds, and it’s clearly taken it’s toll. While, he’s certainly the scariest brother, he’s also the one with the most heart. He cares about his family above all else, and it’s the dichotomy of this character that Hatosy absolutely nails. He deserves an immense amount of credit for his work on this show.

4- The Other Brothers. Despite the fact, this show has a pretty decent size ensemble, all of the brothers are well developed. They’re layered. Scott Speedman’s “Baz” is the adopted brother who still buys his abusive real father groceries and feeds his cat, even though he battles with his desire to blow the man’s head off everyday. He’s the calculated mastermind for most of their largest scores, and the one most loyal to Barkin’s character. At least at the beginning. Ben Robson’s Craig is the middle brother. Like most middle children, Craig feels forgotten. He finds solace in countless women and an over abundance of drugs. He’s the family screw-up, and he struggles for Barkin’s respect. In my opinion, he’s the heart of the show. You root for him to succeed, to get his act together, no matter how badly he acts. Jake Weary’s Deran is the youngest brother. Barkin treats him like her precious baby until the teenager moves in, and takes over that mantle. This creates instant friction between Deran and his nephew Josh. Deran is the most ambitious of the family. He wants out, to do his own thing, and he works towards that goal regardless of how Barkin will react. He also has a secret that adds depth to his character, and supplies a nice twist to the family dynamic.

5- The Heists. The jobs this family pull are original and ambitious. There are some bank heists, but there’s even a unique take on those. We get to see the plan, the build up, the jobs, and the aftermaths, while engaged in the family’s evolving dynamics along the way. Each step has elements that keep us on our toes. The family’s past sins come to light, changing our opinion of certain members on a dime. Josh, the teenager, is supposed to be our hero, our moral compass of the show, yet even he does dirt that brings him to the edge of infamy. Where most shows depend on the heists, this series uses them as the cherry on top of an intense family drama. Talk about gravy.

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