TV Show Recommendation: Animal Kingdom (2016-2022)

I can’t say enough good things about Animal Kingdom. Even after one of the major characters was written off the show, her replacement which was a younger version did just as well. The series ended on a somewhat predictable note, but with enough surprises and emotion that it cuts to the core. There really were no winners in any of the episodes and the so-called losers were all the children of Smurf/Janine Cody. You knew this family wasn’t going to continue its dysfunction forever. While all the cast shined, I have to give it up to Shawn Hatosy as older Pope. He was my favorite character. The six seasons of this show centers on the Cody family and their criminal enterprise in Oceanside, CA. This family/crime drama was created by David Michôd and stars Ellen Barkin/Leila George as Janine Cody (Smurf), Scott Speedman/Darren Mann as Barry Blackwell (Baz), Shawn Hatosy/Kevin Csolak as Andrew Cody (Pope), Ben Robson as Craig Cody, Jake Weary as Deran Cody, and Finn Cole as Joshua Cody (J). Supporting cast include Daniella Alonso as Catherine Belen, Molly Gordon as Nicky Belmont, Renn Randall as Christina Ochoa, Carolina Guerra as Lucy, Spencer Treat Clark as Adrian Dolan, Sohvi Rodriguez as Mia Benitez, Jon Beavers/Jack Conley as Jake Dunmore, Charlayne Woodard as Pamela Johnson, Rigo Sanchez as Manny, and Denis Leary as Billy.

The first season begins with J Cody needing a place to live and so begins his new life with his uncles and grandmother. The biggest thorn in his side out of his uncles is Pope and he wonders about his relationship to Baz. Everyone in the family is a combination of jealousy, hesitation, and wariness toward J. Essentially, none of them really want him there except Smurf and try their best to be civil as he tries to prove himself. Season two continues to focus on the complicated relationships among the Cody family while bringing in the money to live their lavish lifestyles. Certain family members try to distance themselves from Smurf while others try to prove themselves to her while still others are trying to outwit her. The family dynamics shift in some ways, but they all circle back to Smurf where she is at the center. The third season is full of regrets and guilt from past actions for Deran and Pope. It also includes the ups and downs of Pope’s mental health issues and his relationship with J. There is a constant tension between these two and you get a better sense of how calculated J can be.

Season four is where the Cody brothers start to splinter more than ever when an unexpected death occurs. This is my second favorite season because the episode between Smurf and her boys was the best ever and the most disappointing because a great character was lost. The people each of the Cody brothers relied on are dying or leaving and this leaves them vulnerable because their enemies are coming out of the woodwork including their own long distant relatives. The fifth season begins with the origins of Janine Cody’s control over Oceanside and underlying commentary on how her parenting skills screwed up all her children in some way. She was a selfish, manipulative mother where her children were there to serve her needs and not the other way around. The focus shifts to the relationship between Julia and Pope and Smurf and Pope. In present day, the Cody brothers continue their daring heists with mostly success. Season six, the final one, is my favorite one because the Cody family in all their faults got what they deserved. The scars built up over the years with and without Smurf were too great to ignore. I wasn’t sure how much I’d like the last episode but how it all came to a screeching halt was perfect compared to the slow burn over the seasons. I can’t help but wonder how long the freedom for the remaining characters last because given the who the survivors are, revenge has been a central part of the Cody family.

I rate Animal Kingdom FOUR FINGERS and ONE THUMB at 100%.

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