With Animal Kingdom, TNT is definitely trying to move on and leave their glorious past behind. Forget bad popcorn series like Falling Skies or worse : The Last Ship (even if technically, this one’s still on the air). Forget the Dallas reboot misstep, which was creatively a winner but lost too many viewers in a very short period of time to become anything else but a loser. Forget uninteresting copshows like Perception. Forget Legends & Agent X. Oh, maybe you never heard of them in the first place… And you can already start to say goodbye to Rizzoli & Isles, which is ending at the end of season 7. Major Crimes shouldn’t stay long either if TNT finds what they’re looking for with their new shows: the larger crowd possible with finer products. It’s a big challenge for the most network-y of all the cable channels. They want to be AMC. They want to be FX. Except they broadcast all day long Bones, Castle, Grimm, Charmed, Hawaii 5-0, Law & Order repeats. The transition’s gonna be hard. Is Animal Kingdom, likely coming next summer, is their Mad Men, the show that will change the face of TNT forever?
Undoubtedly, Animal Kingdom is edgier than what they are used to broadcast. It’s packed with antiheroes doing bad things like you know… swearing, stealing, fighting, selling drugs… and probably killing at some point if they need to. They’re not afraid of it, or of anything quite frankly.They’re bad asses you don’t wanna mess with. Everybody know them in town. They’re “respected” because they are so much feared. Even the police is careful with them. They’d love to put them all in prisons, they’re watching them as much as they can but the Codys also happen to be very clever, at least most of them, so trying to catch them is more like wasting time and energy. But as much as they are dangerous, they’re also filled with humor, joy, coolness, sexy ways -they love to throw parties around the pool and forget to put shirts and/or pants on- and they have a certain sense of family values. They’re always hitting each others but it’s clear they love living together. The ciment of the whole family is the mother, nicknamed Smurf. She’s cheery, colorful, funny, she cooks a lot, but let’s not be fooled: she’s even more dangerous than her children! She’s the mastermind and she never rests. Whether she’s a good person in the inside has yet to be proven. But she might be. And watching Ellen Barkin in this role will be delightful, that’s for sure.
So the thing with Animal Kingdom is that it’s dark and gritty, as many cable shows are, but lighter than let’s say… Mr Robot on USA Network. Or True Detective on HBO. Or Ray Donovan on Showtime. Or Sons of Anarchy on FX. Or Breaking Bad on AMC. You get the idea? And it’s not necessarily a bad thing, don’t get me wrong: making something very entertaining with a dark content is not that easy. I can think of only one show to compare Animal Kingdom with, in terms of rhythm, content and enjoyment: Shameless. And it’s not a surprise: both are produced by John Wells. It also made me think of another show and don’t laugh please: The OC! If Ryan had arrived in the trash version of the Coen family! Because basically, Josh is like Ryan: an intelligent teenage boy that never got the chance to succeed in life because of his drug-addict of a mother. Except the Codys, unlike the Coen, won’t help him. They’re gonna drag him to the darkside until (very bad) shit happens. It’s predictable but it should be a hell of a ride for him to live and for us to witness.
Animal Kindgom‘s pilot script successfully balances the fun and the dark, the light and the twisty, the sexy and the gritty, and is definitely a show to look forward to. That being said, I don’t think it has what it takes to become a breakout hit and turn TNT upside down but it’s a first step towards the right direction. Many more are to be taken…
WATCH THE TRAILER BELOW: