The Main Family
- Big, Screwed-Up Family: With the exception of Aimee-Leigh, there's nary a well-adjusted Gemstone among them. Eli is a grief-stricken, distant and controlling patriarch, Jesse is a short-tempered hypocrite with a hedonistic streak, Judy is an unhinged walking talking inferiority complex and Kelvin is a confused manchild. And that's not even touching the likes of Baby Billy...
- Establishing Character Moment: The first time they're seen, the Gemstones are in China trying to baptize as many people as they can in a big wave pool. Eli is competent but fails to maintain control over his sons, whose childish antics threaten to derail the entire thing, only for the wave pool to activate and fuck everything up.
- Greed: They share this particular vice in common.
- Hypocrite: While they are all true believers in a sense, they do not practice what they preach. They're greedy, arrogant and don't really care about saving souls or serving God.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Overall, the Gemstones are not very nice, but there are some slight hints that buried deep within their greedy, venal and ruthless shells there are some fragments of decency which, if nurtured, could lead them to become better people.
- Wealth's in a Name: Gemstone, fitting for a family of greedy, rich televangelists.
Dr. Eli Gemstone
The larger-than-life patriarch of the Gemstones, Eli built an evangelist empire with his late wife Aimee-Leigh and fears his children Jesse, Kelvin and Judy may be lost without her — much like himself. When hes not tending to his gold mine of a flock, hes mediating petty disputes among his three children.
- Badass Grandpa: His age hasn't diminished him by much, since he grabs a live rattlesnake with his bare hands without being bitten. Later, in a fit of rage, he chucks a potato through the window of Rev. Seasons' church from hundreds of yards away.
- Berserk Button: Disrespecting his wife or her memory. When robbed at gunpoint, he immediately attacks the robber when he breaks a picture of Aimee-Leigh, but he gets pistol whipped for his trouble.
- Greed: Perhaps his greatest flaw in his relentless hunger for more, to the point where he intentionally swallows up the congregation of smaller churches, getting them shut down in the process.
- The Patriarch: Of the Gemstone clan.
- Large and in Charge: With his towering height, Eli tends to command a room as thoroughly he does his empire.
- Large Ham: It's John Goodman playing a megachurch pastor. What do you expect?
- The Mourning After: He has never stopped mourning his wife's death, and her absence and his inability to fill the resulting void in his life have had a huge effect on his development as a person.
- Not So Above It All: In "Interlude", while reluctant to let Aimee-Leigh and Billy perform their signature act on-air (and give Billy any more leverage in getting what he wants from her), when they eventually do so Eli clearly gets into the song and can't restrain a smile of pleasure at seeing his wife happy and performing.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: He is, relatively, the calmest and most level-headed person in the family. In any other context he's a smug, arrogant, belligerent asshole, but the rest of his family is just so much worse that compared to them he's a rock of stability.
- Self-Made Man: His father, according to their conversation in Interlude was a much more modest preacher who was taken aback at the largesse of the family and the huge birthday party Eli threw for Judy. Its made clear that for the rest of his faults, Eli made all his money on his own.
- Smug Snake: He certainly comes off as one in his dealings with the small town pastors, especially with Rev. Seasons who explicitly calls him out for trying to steal their congregations.
- Surrounded by Idiots: With his wife gone, Eli finds himself surrounded on all sides by inadequate family members: Jesse is a greedy, short-tempered fool, Judy is aggressive, entitled and unable to control herself and Kelvin is just kind of a moron. None of them are remotely capable of steering the Gemstone empire toward future prosperity the way Eli has.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: While he's always been rather cash-focused, "Interlude" shows Eli at his happiest and kindest during his younger days. He has a loving relationship with his wife, worries about spoiling his children and doesn't demonstrate much in the way of selfish behavior.
The first-born son of Eli, Jesse takes his role in the familys glitzy megachurch seriously, even if hes a party boy at heart. A husband and father of three, his life gets turned upside down when anonymous blackmailers with a scandalous video threaten to destroy his image as a righteous family man.
- Abusive Parent: He's not above slapping his children.
- Archnemesis Dad: Unknowingly this to Gideon, who is cooperating with the man blackmailing him.
- Bad Boss: To his entourage, whom he bullies and belittles frequently, sending them into dangerous situations for his own benefit.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: However contentious his relationship with them might be, Jesse does sincerely love his family.
- Even Evil Has Standards: When he (erroneously) believes his son Gideon is gay he is completely supportive and is more thankful that Gideon shared the truth than anything.
- Hypocrite: Of all the Gemstones, he might be the biggest in terms of sheer hypocrisy. He's self-righteous and lectures his wife at length on how she should never keep secrets from family, all while keeping enormous life-destroying secrets from her.
- Ignored Epiphany: When a failure to delete sensitive emails nearly results in his drug-and-prostitute-related indiscretions being discovered, the lesson he takes from this is not that he should change his ways or that he should be more honest to his family, but that he should do a better job of destroying the evidence.
- It's All About Me: Jesse is concerned primarily with protecting himself, and extraordinary selfishness is second nature to him.
- Jerkass: He's an aggressive, domineering bully.
- Kavorka Man: He's a pretty schlubby man who has managed to marry a stunning redhead. Of course, it probably helps that he's wealthy, famous and is nothing if not persistant.
- Know-Nothing Know-It-All: He considers himself something of a mastermind who will inevitably uncover the identity of his blackmailers, when in reality he's far too reactive, impulsive and outright foolish to get very far without help.
- Meaningful Name: Almost certainly named after the biblical Jesse, a shepherd who is regarded as a patriarchal figure since he was the father of King David. Jesse Gemstone is such a bad father that he's alienated one of his sons to the point of trying to rob him.
- Villain Protagonist: Jesse is a wealthy, corrupt, hedonistic, abrasive and hypocritical asshole and we're unambiguously meant to see him as such.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: There appears to be an element of this in his psychological makeup. As the eldest son, Jesse is the one most likely to inherit the Gemstone kingdom, yet despite his pretensions seems to be painfully aware on some level that he's not up to the task and his father looks down a bit on him for this. It is revealed that he was the one responsible for planning the disastrous China mission and is notably squirming and uncomfortable when Eli denounces it as a "shitshow". Part of his motivation for dealing with the blackmail is also to make sure that his father doesn't find out.
Elis only daughter and often the odd woman out, Judy is relegated to being the secretary of the family and just wants to be included. While not-so-secretly living in sin with her fiancé BJ, she has a few tricks up her sleeve in addition to the chip on her shoulder.
- Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: While she doesn't always treat him well, she genuinely does love BJ and will stick up for him to the rest of her family.
- Covert Pervert: Underneath the "righteous Christian woman" persona, she has a rather foul mouth and tends to refer to her "feminine" biological urges quite a lot. This is hinted to be both a calculated ploy to throw off the very traditional and patriarchal men she's surrounded by, but also because she has a lot of barely repressed sexual urges going on.
- The Evil Genius: She's easily the smartest of the Gemstone children, in addition to being perhaps the most overtly corrupt.
- Large Ham: Just because she isn't on-stage, doesn't mean she lacks the Gemstone gene for seriously hamming it up.
- The Resenter: She deeply resents much of her family for sidelining her role in the business and the way they treat BJ.
- Small Name, Big Ego: There's a little bit of this to her character. She resents the fact that she's relegated to lower work in the church than her brothers, and feels that it's because she's a woman in a man's world. While she's not entirely wrong to think so, it's also worth remembering that her mother was an important and respected leader in the church, suggesting that it's not just patriarchy at fault here and that Judy isn't quite as capable as she thinks or wants to be.
- Stealing from the Till: Judy's been embezzling from donations for a long time.
As Jesses younger brother, Kelvin has a lot to prove if hes going to be taken seriously as a minister and person. Small and fierce, he may be more innocent than his siblings, but hes just as fiery.
- Ambiguously Gay: He's the only one of the Gemstone children to not be involved with anyone at the start of the series, is very coiffed, and shares an eyebrow-raising relationship with Keefe, who also lives with him. Since both he and Keefe are Manchildren and Keefe rather clearly has an Ambiguous Disorder, though, it's hard to tell if one or both of them is attracted to the other, or if they simply have an extremely weird and intense platonic friendship. When he shoos Keefe away after considering himself unworthy of his loyalty, its framed like an owner shooing away a confused pet, rather than a disagreement between lovers or friends.
- Anti-Villain: While he's a willing participant in his family's corrupt dealings and an accessory to his brother's criminal acts at the beginning of the series, he is otherwise shown to be a surprisingly kind person who is genuinely good at empathizing with others.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: His relationship with Keefe is somewhere between this, a secret romance, and that of a mentally-handicapped person and their carer.
- Hidden Depths: While he's usually written off as a bumbling dumbass by the rest of his family, he proves to be genuinely talented at his job as a youth pastor.
- Hipster: Described as a "Christian hipster" by some sources, and sports the trendy metrosexual look to go with it.
- Manchild: Has a room full of arcade games and other toys, and proudly shows off a soda machine with a touch screen interface he bought.
- Token Good Teammate: Of the Gemstone siblings, he's generally the most kind and levelheaded, although that's not really saying a lot.
- The Unfavorite: Seems to have a chip on his shoulder due to being the youngest of the children and thus the one trusted with the least amount of responsibility.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: He's eager to prove himself to Eli, who is mostly aggravated by his efforts.
The late wife of Eli Gemstone and sister of Baby Billy, Aimee-Leigh passed away sometime before the series began, although we do see her in flashbacks. In the present, her absence has affected the Gemstones greatly, particularly Eli.
- A Day in the Limelight: Interlude focuses on Aimee-Leigh being pressured to tour by Baby Billy sometime in the 80s while being pregnant with her third child.
- Morality Chain: To the entire family. It seems she kept their more... sinful impulses in check while playing peacemaker, ensuring that everyone got along and the business ran smoothly. Without her, they start to crumble.
- Posthumous Character: She's deceased by the start of the series, appearing only in memorabilia and family photographs. Episode 5 of the first season flashes back to when she was still alive.
- Token Good Teammate: She appears to have been this while alive, being the Morality Chain to her family. From what we see of her, she seems to have been a genuinely devout, kind-hearted and loving person, enabling the otherwise greedy and venal Gemstone empire to have a core of sincerity.
As Jesses doting wife and a mother of three, Amber always stands by her man. She isnt afraid to speak her mind, as long as Jesse gives her permission.
- Chekhov's Skill: Her proficiency with firearms comes into play after finding Jesse cheated on her, and she uses a rifle to nail him right in the ass. While painful and humiliating, a bullet to the ass is one of the easier bullet wounds to recover from.
- Ms. Fanservice: At one point, she appears in a very form-fitting nightgown.
- Stay in the Kitchen: Jesse has this attitude to her, and she follows his lead on it. At one point, while refuting BJ's accusation that the Gemstone Empire keep women in the shadows, she stops herself to ask Jesse permission to speak.
Jesse and Ambers estranged, oldest son Gideon ran away from the Gemstones to Los Angeles, where hes trying to make it as a stuntmanor so his family thinks.
- Meaningful Name: Unlike Gideon and Abraham who are named after biblical "good guys" and who are less openly antagonistic, Pontius shares his name with a biblical "villain" and he has no problem mouthing off to Jesse.
Judys fiancé BJ is more than ready to marry into the Gemstone family, even if he gets no respect from her brothers and father (or Judy, for that matter).
- Butt-Monkey: Virtually everyone but Judy treats him with contempt. The Gemstones treat him as a toy to bully or focus their hatred on. Even Judy partakes.
- Extreme Doormat: Takes most of the abuse leveled at him without much of a fuss. The few times he attempts to stand up for himself, he backs off at the slightest pushback.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Breaks off the engagement with Judy after one too many insults. However, it doesnt stick and they reunite by the end of the first season.
The Gemstone Empire
"Baby" Billy Freeman
- Attention Whore: Aside from the money, it's clear that Billy basks in attention.
- Big Ego, Hidden Depths: Billy might be a bombastic egotist, but he's also insecure, financially unstable and painfully aware that time is running out to reclaim even a little of the glory days.
- The Charmer: He knows just how to work an audience.
- Consummate Liar: Lying is second-nature for Billy, who lies to everyone and often does so convincingly.
- Cool Uncle: To the Gemstone kids, particularly back in his younger days. He spoils them, speaks to them like adults... but also manipulates them and uses them as tools to get back at their parents for any perceived slights.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: He might be a petty, money-hungry sideshow of a human being but Billy does dearly love his son, Harmon. In the present, hes also shown to genuinely miss his sister Aimee-Leigh.
- Expy: He's a cross between Marjoe Gortner and Peter Popoff.
- Former Child Star: Baby Billy rose to fame alongside his sister as child performers, but unlike Aimee-Leigh, Baby Billy never transitioned from successful child star to successful adult televangelist. He ruthlessly claws at his legacy with reunion tours, but knows that his target audience are largely seniors who are on their way out. The song he sings with Aimee-Leigh in "Interlude" makes sense when sung by children but not by a grown man.
- It's All About Me: In the flashback of Interlude he pressures a pregnant at forty Aimee-Leigh to tour with him for his financial gain, with no thought given to her health.
- Large Ham: He's Eli's brother-in-law and like the rest of the clan, the man can put on a show.
- Manipulative Bastard: Back in the old days, he tries to play the Gemstones against one another by pushing Jesse into making a big scene and later using a sob story to convince Aimee-Leigh to join him for the reunion tour.
- Motor Mouth: Once he gets going he absolutely never shuts up.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: He shows a nasty mysogynistic streak when he tells Aimee-Leigh she's being "a woman", implying that he views women as fundamentally emotional and irrational.
As a top employee for the Gemstones, Martin has a front-row seat to the familys dysfunctions.
- The Consigliere: To Eli.
Chad, Levi, Matthew, Gregory
- Butt-Monkey: Their sole purpose seems to be to take verbal or physical abuse on behalf of, or from, Jesse. Especially Chad.
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: The very odd Gregory, who has coins made to commemorate the fact that they are being blackmailed and their lives could disintegrate at any moment.Jesse: "We did it"? You made coins with our names on it that says "We did it"? And we're trying to put what happened behind us. You can't be making fucking souvenirs about it!
- Humiliation Conga: All of them, but Chad in particular has to deal with a lot, much of it arguably deserved.
- He has his infidelity, drug use and penis exposed on-camera as part of blackmail footage;
- He's bullied by Jesse into attacking Johnny Seasons, which results in him getting shot in the stomach;
- His dirty deeds are discovered by his wife and he's subsequently chastised by Jesse for getting them all in trouble.
- Too Dumb to Live: They're all remarkably stupid, hence why Jesse is their leader.
Scotty / The Devil
- Ax-Crazy: Scotty is a vicious, cruel man with a quick temper. He turns violent very quickly, views other people as puppets to be used and discarded and has a nasty streak of sadism running through the core of whohe is. Although he's generally incompetent, he manages to be very intimidating simply by virtue of his tendency toward impulsive acts of violence.
- Bad Boss: Although he's supposedly allies with Gideon and girlfriend Lucy, he treats them more like subordinates. When Lucy is seemingly killed, he's upset for a few minutes before coldly trying to dump the body... except she isn't actually dead. He also attacks Gideon, and treats him pretty poorly in general, even stealing his lunch.
- Beard of Evil: He's a bearded psychopath.
- The Danza: Shares the same first name as his actor.
- Faux Affably Evil: When he infiltrates Jesse's household, he shockingly manages to throw on a convincing facade of a stuntman with a wild past who's turned to Jesus and repented. Of course, Jesse isn't too bright and is riding the high of thinking he's put the blackmail episode behind him, but Scotty still does a pretty impressive job that fools everyone who isn't already wise to him.
- Guttural Growler: This is actually a plot point. Scotty has a low, scary voice but he lowers it even further into a harsh snarl to disguise his identity when blackmailing Jesse.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: It's unclear if he was always this unstable, but after the blackmail scheme goes awry he becomes very short-tempered, largely to his own detriment.
- Jerkass: A short-tempered, violent and rude man.
- Manipulative Bastard: Although not particularly bright, he does manages to keep Gideon under his thumb through a combination of implied violence, seemingly sincere friendship, and playing on Gideon's relationship with Jesse.
- Not-So-Harmless Villain: His criminal rampage consists of one failure after another, and much of it can be blamed on Scotty's own incompetence and temper. He's run over by a car, fights Gideon to a standstill the day after, winds up living in his truck before getting run off the road (injuring him further) and then has to live in a shitty tent he can't even put up correctly. He starts to turn it all around by posing as a friend of Gideon's, but Gideon's change of heart seems to put an end to all his plans when he can't bring himself to shoot his former friend. Then he turns it all around by losing his mind completely and forcing Jesse, Gideon and Eli at gunpoint into leading him to the Gemstone family vault.
- Stupid Crooks: Scotty's not particularly bright, but since he's so violent, it doesn't make him any less dangerous.
- Surprisingly Sudden Death: Gets his brains blown out minutes after his heist.
- Villainous Breakdown: After things go wrong during his blackmail attempt, Scotty is in a permanent state of frustrated outrage.
Keefe is Kelvins best friend and a former Satanist who works at the DMV.
- Ambiguous Disorder: There's something up with Keefe: he's awkward, mumbling, blindly loyal, talks frequently about killing himself should Kelvin ask him to and seems utterly terrified at all times.
- Ambiguously Gay: He lives with Kelvin and is obsessively devoted to him, and the two share a very intimate relationship in general, but it's left unclear if this is due to some kind of attraction on one or both of their parts or if they're simply a pair of emotionally-stunted weirdos expressing platonic love for their Only Friend in the strangest way possible.
- Catchphrase: He keeps telling Kelvin that he'll kill himself if asked to, which only serves to creep everyone out.
- Dark and Troubled Past: He was a Satanist before Kelvin supposedly "saved" him.
- Goth: Used to be one until he found Jesus.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: His relationship with Kelvin is somewhere between this, a secret romance, and that of a mentally-handicapped person and their carer.
- I Owe You My Life: Considers Kelvin to be his savior for showing him the light of religion in his darkest hour.
- Manchild: So much so that he requires the similarly childish Kelvin to constantly supervise him so that he doesn't accidentally hurt himself.
- Undying Loyalty: Will follow Kelvin to the ends of the earth, and believes him to be destined for greatness.
Rev. John Wesley Seasons
- Good Is Not Soft: Seasons is the genuine man of God that the Gemstones claim to be, but come into his home with violence on your mind and he will not turn the other cheek. He'll shoot you down.