Danny McBride as Jesse Gemstone, crude megachurch pastor
Charleston, South Carolina, Easter 2019
Series: The Righteous Gemstones
Episode: “And Yet One of You Is a Devil” (Episode 1.07)
Air Date: September 29, 2019
Director: Jody Hill
Creator: Danny McBride
Costume Designer: Sarah Trost
Now when I say “Easter”, a lot of images come to mind. The bunny. Easter egg hunts. Them marshmallow Peeps that taste better when they’re stale.
Created by Danny McBride, who wrote or co-wrote every episode in addition to starring, The Righteous Gemstones sends up American televangelism and megachurch culture through McBride’s usual comedic style that characterized his previous shows Eastbound & Down and Vice Principals.
A twisted take on if King Lear had been written about Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, The Righteous Gemstones centers around the fictional titular family led by patriarch Eli Gemstone (John Goodman), a sincere if overly prideful pastor who seemingly failed to pass his altruism on to his three children: the insecure youth pastor Kelvin (Adam Devine), the chaotic Judy (Edi Patterson), and the crude Jesse (McBride) who, by virtue of being the eldest, seems poised to succeed his aging father despite his debauched lifestyle.
After spending the season struggling as the target of a blackmail scheme gone awry, secretly engineered by his bitter son Gideon (Skyler Gisondo), Jesse’s ambitions are realized as Eli grants him the enviable task of delivering the sermon on Easter Sunday.
“It’s the most gigantic-est of deals,” Jesse assures his returned son’s mysterious friend Scotty (Scott MacArthur) of the service attended by 17,000 in person and broadcast to six million viewers around the world. Little does Jesse know that Gideon and Scotty are confederates in a new plan to steal the millions anticipated to be comprise the Easter Sunday collection. At the eleventh hour, a guilty Gideon attempts to come clean about the nature of his partnership with Scotty, but Jesse misinterprets the awkward exchange as Gideon’s attempt to come out to him:
Gideon, I love you. No matter who you are, or what you do, or who you do.
On that message of acceptance, Jesse cuts the conversation short before learning what Gideon actually wanted to reveal, taking the stage for his much-anticipated sermon.
What’d He Wear?
The Gemstones dress in their Sunday best for Easter, whether that means purple sequins for Judy or different interpretations of all-white tailoring for Eli and Jesse. Given his age and status, Eli is arguably the most tasteful dresser of the family, favoring conservative suits and sport jackets, polos and khakis, all tailored to flatter John Goodman’s frame.
On the other hand, Jesse is intentionally dressed to present the image of a past-his-prime redneck who doesn’t know what to do with all his wealth, preferring the daily attire of loud, gut-busting shirts—some embroidered with his initials—and white belts to match his bleached leather boots.
“McBride wanted Jesse specifically to have a flamboyant, vintage Southern look—think Memphis Mafia suits with Conway Twitty helmet hair,” wrote Gabriella Paiella for GQ. Indeed, Jesse’s image of success is evidently rooted in country music icons of yesteryear, his ballooned graying coif borrowed from Twitty while costume designer Sarah Trost shared that Elvis Presley provided considerable inspiration for Jesse’s costumes.
White is something of a status color for Jesse Gemstone, as indicated not just by his belt and boots but also his Dodge Challenger and the decision to dress his family in all white for their tacky family portrait session. Given that knowledge, it makes sense that Jesse would outfit himself in all white for that most auspicious of liturgical occasions: the Easter Sunday sermon.
Jesse wears a creamy white brocade three-piece suit, an even more flamboyant co-opt of the the classic televangelist look as lampooned by Wayne Newton as “Professor” Joe Butcher in Timothy Dalton’s second movie as James Bond, Licence to Kill.
Though the cut and styling are consistent with a three-piece lounge suit or business suit, more formal cues are incorporated via the cloth-covered buttons and the jacket more closely echoing a dinner jacket with its smooth silk-faced shawl collar, single-button front closure, and straight jetted hip pockets. The breast pocket is welted in a smooth silk like the collar, dressed with a beige self-checked silk pocket square folded into multiple points. The jacket has front darts to shape the silhouette and a single back vent. The four “kissing” buttons on each cuff are covered in the same silk as the single button on the front.
Jesse’s suit has a matching brocade waistcoat (vest) with six covered buttons up the front that he wears fully fastened. (Sartorial purists consider buttoning the lowest button a no-no… but I imagine that wouldn’t be the only issue purists take with Jesse’s outfit!) Consistent with his spirit of over-ornamentation, Jesse wears a pocket watch on a chain strung “single Albert”-style through the fourth buttonhole down and carried in the left of two jetted pockets.
The jacket and waistcoat generally cover the top of Jesse’s matching brocade suit trousers, though we can ascertain that they have a flat front, side pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms that break over the top of his usual white boots, which contrast less here than they typically do with his daily apparel.
Jesse’s icy-colored spread-collar shirt is just a pale shade of blue away from being white like the rest of his suit, with a self-pattern that reflects under the stage lights shining on the pulpit. He wears an ecru silk tie with a textured weave suggesting grenadine.
Jesse signals his liturgical leadership with an ornate gold cross worn around his neck on a thick gold rope-chain necklace, suspended over mid-chest and worn under his shirt collar but over top his tie, which costume designer Sarah Trost explained to GQ “was a very Elvis thing to do.”
Jesse almost certainly wears his usual array of necklaces under his shirt, but he has enough gold flashing from his hands that we can focus just on what we see here. He rotates through a number of rings, sporting a quartet on Easter—one on each pinky, and one on each ring finger—all yellow gold. The two rings on his left hand look a little chunkier, with large diamonds shining from the pinky ring and a band of diamonds around the center of what might be his wedding band.
On his right wrist, Jesse wears a gold chain-link bracelet with his initials “J.S.G.” etched on the ID plate. Although he does appear to be wearing a pocket watch in his waistcoat, he still wears his usual yellow gold Rolex Day-Date “President” wristwatch on his left wrist, so named for the distinctive curved three-piece “Presidential” link bracelet that was introduced in tandem with the Day-Date in the late ’50s and has been favored with executives both real (e.g., LBJ and Dick Cheney) and fictional (Tony Soprano).
Jesse’s sunglasses are distinctive enough that I imagine they could be easily identified by someone more expert than I am, but they struck me as a more squared-off variant of the unique Vuarnet Edge as worn by Daniel Craig’s James Bond, though they also look like they could be a product from Neostyle, the German eyewear company that developed the striking “Neostar 2” frame popularized by Elvis in the ’70s.
Similar to products by Carrera and Cazal, Jesse’s sunglasses consist of black-wired rims overlaid atop a squared aviator-style frame.
How to Get the Look
Looking to turn heads with your Easter Sunday fit? You could find some taste at the heart of Jesse Gemstone’s pale three-piece suit, or you could go full Gemstone with every garish detail you can think of: brocade fabric from shoulders to shins, gold jewelry wherever you can fit it, and your shiniest white boots to complete the look.
- Cream white brocade dress suit:
- Single-breasted dinner jacket with silk-faced shawl collar, silk-covered single-button closure, silk-welted breast pocket, straight jetted hip pockets, silk-covered 4-button “kissing” cuffs, and single vent
- Single-breasted waistcoat/vest with six silk-covered buttons, notched bottom, and two lower pockets
- Flat front trousers with side pockets and plain-hemmed bottoms
- Ice-blue self-patterned shirt with spread collar
- Ecru grenadine-woven silk tie
- Beige tonal-checked silk pocket square
- White leather boots
- Gold ornate cross on thick gold rope-chain necklace
- Gold pocket watch on gold “single Albert” chain
- Rolex Day-Date “President” yellow gold wristwatch with round gold dial on three-piece link bracelet
- Four gold rings
- Black-wired and gold-framed square aviator sunglasses
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the series, streaming on HBO Max.
A foe can plan your destruction, but only a loved one can break your heart.