Note: Some GIFs are a bit NSFW. Be warned…
I’m still so irritated with myself for so terribly misjudging Kingdom before I’d ever seen it. All I heard was “MMA” and I automatically thought that it would suck balls. Mind you, we’re about four episodes in, and there’s only been one MMA match shown so far, which is more than enough proof that there is far more to the show than this particular aspect. I still don’t know what the big climax of the show will be, but I already know that Kingdom has more heart than very many shows airing right now.
One of the great things about the show is its pacing. Due to the fact that it’s so heavily focused on character development, as opposed to non-stop action, we’re able to more fully appreciate each character, including their strengths and weaknesses.
For instances, perhaps the most compelling character of the show (intentionally by the writers or not) is Jay (Jonathan Tucker). On the surface, and particularly in the pilot episode, Jay comes across like your quintessential meathead douchebag: always up for a fight when it comes knocking, unreliable, party-crazy, immature and flippant. However, it doesn’t take us long to realise that there is a sensitivity and responsibility within him that is so realistic that it makes him incredibly endearing. Though he shirks anything which may seem like responsibility, yet it’s clear that taking care of his younger brother, Nate (Nick Jonas), is his number one priority. We also see a dedication and devotion to his drug-addicted mother that none of the other characters exhibit. So much so, that he’s essentially kidnapped her and locked her in his room with the hope that she can successfully stick through her withdrawal, and ultimately kick the drugs. That doesn’t mean that he has this same level of sympathy for everyone, which was evident with the grisly beatdown he laid on Terry, his mother’s pimp. Considering the fact that Lisa is now trying to get him back into the good graces of the MMA world, it will be interesting to see how his character evolves.
Speaking of Lisa, this is one amazing character. Not only is she the stand out female character in an otherwise all-male cast, she is making herself out to be a stand out player in a male-dominated industry. In spite of the intense reservations that she has of Ryan being around, she has yet to show any weakness, and can hold her own against any (or all) of the men around her, which is no easy feat considering they’re all MMA champions or aspirees. What she lacks in MMA prowess, she makes up for in wit, guts and a commanding nature. Heck, Alvey is obviously the alpha-dog of the show, and even that is debatable when we see his interactions with Lisa.
Alvey. Oh, Alvey. A macho patriarch with a zen mentality… how do we break you down? Trying to deal with a failing gym would be hard enough, but he also has his family to attend to, and he’s taken on a massive undertaking with training Ryan, who isn’t nearly up to par. Still, though, like Jay, Alvey does it all with an unexpected delicacy that shows that he and his son have more in common than he would otherwise like to admit. I genuinely love the fact that these characters are both written and portrayed in such a way that their flaws and merits seamlessly blend, making them appear less like television characters, and more like individuals we’d meet in our own lives. Honestly, there’s an almost reality-show-type feel to Kingdom that works terribly well in its favour.
Arguably, the reason that many of us know about this show is Nick Jonas, who plays Nate, whose storyline is further fuel to my love for the show. As a promising new MMA fighter, Nate’s story could have been dictated by matches and fighting. However, writing in an injury so early on in the show, gave us an opportunity to get to know Nate outside of the cage, and it was a brilliant decision. Nate comes off as the polar opposite of Jay: calm, good head on his shoulders, rational and often slow to anger. However, we all have our breaking points, and sooner or later, Nate is undoubtedly going to reach his.
Interestingly enough, the main character should really be Ryan Wheeler. However, he is the one whom I understand least. A recently released convict, Ryan is searching for redemption. However, despite his evidently reformed nature, there is something incredibly mistrustful about him. I’m not saying that people can’t change… but two instances so far have shown him with an ease for lying that is highly suspicious: once with his roommates teddy bear (which is a bizarre enough story on its own), and then when he claimed to be in finance in order to score with a woman. Of course, neither instance was profound enough to be very shocking, but it did provoke the question: what else is he lying about?
This show really is great; I absolutely love it. And I am thrilled that DirecTV has not only ordered a full first season, but already renewed it for a second!