Today in mostly unsolicited TV recaps, I wanted to share a few thoughts about Kingdom, a new show about MMA. When I first heard about Kingdom, I was like, yeah, okay, but then I started reading about it, and it became something that I genuinely wanted to watch.
The show, at its heart, is about a man and his three sons — two actual sons and one surrogate son. We have Jay the fuck-up (Jonathan Tucker), a raging heroin and sex addict with a — and this is putting it kindly — tense relationship with his father Alvey (Frank Grillo). We also have Nate the golden boy, whose upcoming fight is the central focus of this particular episode. Nate is played by Nick Jonas of, yes, those Jonas Brothers, and he is nearly unrecognizable as a beefed up fighter dude. Finally, there is Ryan (Matt Lauria), Alvey's pseudo-son, freshly out of prison for an unspecified crime. Of the three sons, I am most interested in where Ryan's story arc is going to go if only a. I'm a sucker for a good redemption story, and b. the pilot made it clear he was an ace fighter before going to the big house, and I'm sure we'll get to see some of those fights via flashback eventually.
Speaking of fights, the show seems to strike true in terms of real-life authenticity. Frank Grillo, who plays Alvey, has practiced MMA for decades. Even though I'm only a beginning MMA student myself, I recognized a lot of gear being used, including the dreaded sauna suit, which is worn by fighters to induce intense sweating and drop weight more quickly. (My own instructor, who would not look out of place at Alvey's gym, is a big fan of the sauna suit, although he doesn't make us wear them.) Moreover, according to at least one interview with Matt Lauria, none of the main characters used stunt doubles and fought for real.
Unfortunately, because I am physically incapable of turning off the feminist critic part of my brain, I of course noticed that the few women on screen were relegated to eye candy and/or sex objects. The only woman who really stood out was Lisa (Kiele Sanchez), Alvey's significant other and business partner, although I'm not holding my breath for her because I can see the love triangle she will inevitably be caught up in coming from a mile away.
Nonetheless, Kingdom is a promising if otherwise testosterone-fueled drama, and it would not be out of place on FX or Spike. At the moment, however, Kingdom is only available through DirecTV's Audience video on demand service, and I wish it was easier to access because the show is only just getting warmed up.