I’m as hooked on TNT’s Animal Kingdom as Billy is to smack — and I feel almost guilty about it. It’s not that it’s bad television; on the contrary, it’s freakin’ terrific — dark, funny, exciting, smartly written and beautifully acted. It’s just that… holy crap, every character on the show is a bigger piece of s— than the last!
When I first reviewed the premiere back in 2016, this was a big sticking point for me. But as the Cody family was fleshed out in Season 2, I slowly realized that I wasn’t watching anymore just in hopes of seeing the brutes get their comeuppance, I was watching because I’d started to like them — and halfway through Season 3, I’m not sure I should like them.
Yes, Pope is doing his best, often adorably, to parent Lena; that doesn’t change the fact that he murdered the little girl’s mother. Deran’s sometime boyfriend Adrian has forgiven him for that savage Season 1 beating (to the point that they still hook up); does that mean that we’re supposed to? I even feel conflicted about empathizing with young J, now that he’s dumped poor old Mrs. Fullerton (and her cat!) in the middle of nowhere, cheated on Nicky and left her to bleed out in the doorway of an ER!
Mind you, a total of none of this means that I am even considering giving up on Animal Kingdom. I’m as likely to do that as Craig is to go a whole episode wearing a shirt. What it does mean, however, is that my relationship status with the show is, and perhaps always will be, “It’s complicated.”
How about you? Do you ever feel weird when you catch yourself rooting for violent thugs like Craig and Pope? Hit the comments.