HBO’s ‘Dark Materials,’ ‘Gemstones’ both grapple with faith

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — HBO’s forthcoming fantasy series “His Dark Materials” and its new televangelist comedy “The Righteous Gemstones” bring wildly different worlds to the screen, yet both grapple with the same central problem: How to take on religion without demeaning viewers’ beliefs.

“His Dark Materials” is based on the novel series from author Phillip Pullman that has been embraced by atheists and condemned by believers for its villain, a powerful quasi-religious organization called the Magisterium.

But the show’s executive producer Jane Tranter told a TV critics’ meeting Wednesday that the show is a critique of authoritarian organizations of all kinds.

Danny McBride, star and creator of “The Righteous Gemstones,” which portrays a sometimes sincere, sometimes sleazy family of evangelists, says the show avoids the too-common Hollywood mistake of lampooning people’s beliefs.

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