Variety just got an exclusive look at the set of Kingdom season 2, and we’ve never been readier for a classic Kulina-style clobbering.
Kingdom, one of DirecTV’s first-ever original primetime dramas, became a genre insta-classic after its first season aired. Set in the criminal underbelly of Venice Beach, the show centers on the story of an impressively dysfunctional family of fighters who manage Navy St., a fast-tanking gym that once trained MMA superstars.
Patriarch Alvey “King” Kulina (Frank Grillo) runs a tight ship training his sons, the unpredictable Jay (Jonathan Tucker) and the closeted, destructively quiet Nate (Nick Jonas). Kiele Sanchez co-stars as Lisa Prince, Alvey’s girlfriend and the gym’s co-manager: She delivers a substantial performance as a complex and thick-skinned woman who has found herself tangled in the life of a man who, nearly twice her age, could ruin her financially. Other characters include Ryan Wheeler (Matt Lauria), Lisa’s convict ex, and Christina Kulina (Joanna Going), Alvey’s estranged, addict wife.
It’s a tangled web. Though any show detailing the lives of a ragtag bunch of fighters and starring Frank Grillo sounds like a surefire recipe for boring machismo and Sons of Anarchy-esque bloodletting, Kingdom surprised us by avoiding a good number of the regular pitfalls of its genre. The first deviation comes in Alvey himself, whose bipolar disorder makes basic functioning nearly impossible without medication. That’s one hyper-masculine no-no checked off. The second comes in the form of Nate, a young gay man who cycles miserably through girlfriends and clams up in pure terror at every dinner with his father. Jay Kulina breaks the macho mold, too: beneath the flagrant drug abuse, he’s a deeply caring eccentric who works tirelessly to nurse his mother through her withdrawals at deep emotional cost.
Surprisingly smart, surprisingly self-aware — what’s next for Kingdom? We know that Lisa will be managing a female fighter and that, as pictured, Jay has found himself a love interest. TVLine also reports that Alvey’s recent victories have increased his “appetite for risk,” which doesn’t sound too good, considering his instability at the end of the first season. We also spot Alvey and Nate training, Lisa railing at a fight, and Ryan and Alvey looking pretty intense in the cage, presumably regrouping mid-match.
Season 1 of Kingdom just dropped on iTunes, and season 2 will premiere Wednesday, October 14 on Audience.
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