Prodigal Son is a 2019 crime, procedural television series that has two seasons. It follows a profiler named Malcom Bright, who discovered his father was a serial killer when he was a young boy; a revelation that has haunted him terribly ever since. As Bright tries to make his way in the world of career crime-fighting, he realises that there are certain insights that only a man like his father can provide. Insights that shall help him to catch other serial killers just like daddy dearest.
When I saw this sprout up on my HBO feed last year, I immediately picked it up because I fucking love Michael Sheen. He is such a brilliant actor, and that was the only bit of information that I needed to know that this was a series for me. I had no idea the role he played or even what the series was about. Upon finishing the first segment, I just sat in my recliner for a few moments, pondering what I watched. Then I mumbled to myself, “Holy Hell, this is gonna be so fucking good.” Surprise, surprise, I was right on the money with that one. Since then, I have watched both season in their entirety about four or five times (currently on my sixth watch-through).
My fanhuman instincts were screaming at me to share this series with everyone and anyone who would be open to recommendations, even if crime dramas weren’t their cup of chai. My love for Prodigal Son was such a lively beast. Which brings me to today’s post: five reasons (out of many) that you need to pick up this series if you haven’t yet.
The Serial Killers
There are some really interesting serial killers in this show, and some of them have absolutely ridiculous names, which contributes even more to the awesomeness and uniqueness of their identities. I also love that it doesn’t shy away from showing us different gendered-killers. Most of the time, all we see are men because they tend to outnumber women in terms of series killings. But here, everyone is up for grabs and that made Prodigal Son even more engaging to me.
I also love that there is this underlying humour of how serial killers really should have their own secret club due to the similarities in their profiles, as well as how you can never ever tell who has the makings to be a psychopathic slaughterer.
Lastly, Prodigal Son deals almost exclusively with serial killers rather than random criminals. Don’t get me wrong, I love NCIS or whatever as much as the next human, but when you have Criminal Minds or this shindig where the stories are more centric on the psychology of it all, then you essentially have the whole attention of my brain.
Dry, Dark Humour
Dark, morbid, fucked-up humour is my supreme kind of chai. I have a dark mind (which I never shy away from) and dry humour has always felt more authentic and entertaining to me than absurdist or dead-pan type comedic elements. Because the characters all deal with murders and serial killers and their own hefty baggage of psychological hoopla, the comedy definitely veers into the embrace of those things. They are also said in such a natural and effortless manner that it never disrupts the flow of the importance of what’s going on while it’s dropping shade and sass.
One of my favourite lines was about a guy who went into a dangerous situation alone and then “got popped like bubble wrap.” That may not seem funny in this moment, but in context and the straightforward manner in which was executed gets me laughing every time. It’s little moments like that that come together to formulate an appealing overall experience. I’m addicted.
The Dysfunctional Family Love
My dudes, dudettes, and non-gendered buds… The family, let me tell you about this fucking family. They epitomise the word “dysfunction,” however, they also epitomise the idea of “ride or die,” and that is what has made them my number one favourite fucked-up family folx.
The mother has so much fucking sass and shade to throw and I love her for it. She is fierce and unapologetic about what she had to do to protect her kids, and she holds on to those deeds with strength and belief. The way that she doesn’t flinch away from severe mothering (i.e.: telling her kids they’re being dumbasses to their face) has made her a charming lady in my book. Plus, she has ninja-like skills with tossing around her expensive stilettoes. That is kind of hot, I ain’t going to lie.
The sister and brother interactions are wholesomely adorable because of how normal they are in the midst of their abnormal existences. They are competitive and playfully fight and banter to see who is the superior in their respective investigative fields. They each have their own very special brand of issues with their parents that, if you remove the serial killer aspect, is actually no different than many of the issues we all have with our own (e.g.: trying to make them proud, never feeling good enough, always struggling with their invasiveness, etc.).
The dad… The dad is the motherfucking man. I’ll just leave it at that. 😊
Interconnected from Start to Finish
Each segment has it’s own killer and circumstances that it deals with, but in the grand scheme of it all, it’s interconnected to Daddy Death Dude in one shape or form, creating this two-season long narrative that works so stupendously well. In some ways it can be described as a slow-burn story due to the small revelations that take place in each episode, but then in others, it is wickedly fast-paced as the implications of those reveals take on a life of their own and rocket towards the next catastrophe. The beauty of this strange balancing act is an excellently written web of darkly whimsical intrigue. Even when you think you have it all figured out, you probably don’t, and that is phenomenally exciting (at least, to me).
The acting is hands down the best aspect of Prodigal Son. Every person who was cast in their respective roles were a perfect fit for whom they were depicting. Additionally, everyone has such gloriously genuine and graceful chemistry between them that is quite appropriate for the relationship inclinations portrayed. Malcolm Bright does questionable sanity with such ease, I felt he was born to play that role. His chemistry with this sister and mother work to pull the watcher into their interactions, whether it be arguments, something more emotional and tender, or intensely fiery.
Then we have Michael Sheen. I mean, it’s motherfucking Michael Sheen, so you can expect unparalleled acting finesse. Yet, what makes him stand out is the hairline micro-expressions that he performs so flawlessly, illustrating the impulsivity of a psychopath’s emotional state, and that truly blew my mind. Bring them all together, along with non-familial cast members, like Bright’s co-workers, for example, and you have a feast of supremely underrated acting prowess.
After I wrapped up the second season, I was astonished that I had never heard of Prodigal Son until I found it on HBO. It is one of the best written and best acted TV serials to come out in such a long, long time, and I’m utterly heart-broken it didn’t stick around to surpass it’s second season existence. If there is anything that deserved to be fully and wholly fleshed out, this baby was it.
If you haven’t seen Prodigal Son yet, and if you have access to HBO Max, then I HIGHLY RECOMMEND that you take some time to watch the first episode at the very least. It has made it’s way to one of my top ten, possibly even top five, serials of all-time and I need it to get all of the love it can. If you have seen it, then please let me know in the comments what you thought of it! I promise I won’t hate on anyone that didn’t like it, but I can’t guarantee I won’t sob a teeny tiny bit.
Release: September 2019
Genre: Crime Drama, Procedural
Created By: Chris Fedak & Sam Sklaver
Language: English (US)
Streaming: HBO Max
Content Warnings: Graphic blood and gore, including dismemberment. Death and violence. Some strong language. Some sexual content and brief nudity. Depiction of psychological abuse (gaslighting) and mental health illness, including insanity, institutionalism and shock therapy. Brief mention of infidelity. Drug use and abuse. Alcohol use. Some racism (including police brutality against a Black person) and some sexism.