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‘Prosper’ Is a Juicy Megachurch Drama

by ballyhooglobal.com
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The Australian drama “Prosper,” on the Roku channel, follows the Quinn family and their megachurch franchise. Dad Cal (Richard Roxburgh) is the slick, energetic leader, the kind of pastor who does not turn the other cheek but instead punches the guy right back, harder. Mom Abi (Rebecca Gibney) is the tough power player, willing though not always happy to cover up her family’s transgressions — a task that takes up nearly all of her time.

The eldest son, Dion (Ewen Leslie), might be too milquetoast to take over. “If you want to inherit the earth, Dion, you’re going to have to be a little less meek,” says one attaché. Dion’s wife, Taz (Ming-Zhu Hii), is more than happy to push him, though. God helps those who help their spouses, right? Issy (Hayley McCarthy) is the pop singer with a showbiz-Jesus husband (Jordi Webber) who would love his own chance to preach, while Jed (Jacob Collins-Levy) is the prodigal son who ditched the megachurch in favor of a soup kitchen but now finds himself sucked back into the fold. And the baby of the family, the adopted, teenage Moses (Alexander D’Souza), is trying to contact his birth parents amid a self-destructive spiral.

“Nobody does church like us,” Cal brags. One hopes! His plan to plant a church in Los Angeles sends his children scrambling for top position, trying to prove both their spiritual and commercial mettle. They compete to baptize a famous young D.J. the way the “Succession” kids tried to close deals. Jesus is lord, but cash is king, and those sprawling buildings, rock-concert stages, private helicopters and image consultants don’t pay for themselves.

“Prosper” has enough tawdry scandals to qualify as a soap and enough Shakespearean power lust to qualify as a fancy drama. Unlike some of its more prestige-chasing brethren, “Prosper” moves; it almost feels distilled. Episodes zip along, and characters tend to announce their schemes and allegiances, and what the show lacks in nuance it makes up for in momentum. Many of its juiciest arcs are ripped from tabloid headlines, but the series avoids tinny caricature and instead finds the real light and longing in its characters, the sincerity of the search within the hypocrisy of the outcomes.

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