TV Review: ‘Kin’ Season 1

by Rachel Bellwoar

“Kin” means family. It’s also short for the last name “Kinsella” on Kin, the new AMC+ series about a family of Irish gangsters. It stars Aidan Gillen, who is probably best known in the states for appearing on shows like The Wire and Game of Thrones. He’s no stranger to playing gangsters, however, having joined the cast of Peaky Blinders in season four. He also starred on RTÉ’s Love/Hate which, if you haven’t seen it, is streaming its first season for free on IMDB TV (though be warned — seasons 2 and 3 cost money and seasons 4 and 5 aren’t streaming in the US).

Love/Hate is especially pertinent when it comes to discussing Kin, though, because they cover a lot of the same territory. Both series are about Irish gangsters and both revolve around a character who’s trying to go straight. Kin begins with Mickey (Daredevil‘s Charlie Cox) getting out of prison after an eight-year sentence. While his family presumes he’ll be rejoining the family business, Mickey is more concerned with getting custody of his daughter (Hannah Adeogun) back, which means getting a job that’s legal.

For a show that’s supposed to be about the trials of mixing family with business, it shouldn’t be so difficult to figure out who’s related to who. Mickey and Jimmy (Emmett J. Scanlon) are brothers and Eric (Sam Keely) is Frank’s (Gillen) undependable son, but how these two branches of the Kinsella family tree meet is a constant point of contention. My current theory is Frank is Mickey and Jimmy’s brother, too, but when you’re constantly looking for someone to say “uncle” or “father” it gets a little distracting.

(Photo Credit: Patrick Redmond/AMC+)

Frank couldn’t be more different from Gillen’s role on Love/Hate. Mainly, he doesn’t seem to accrue the same respect. It’s hard to tell whether this is a new development or if his family have never listened to him, but it would be nice to have some kind of benchmark for how they usually treat him. Besides Gillen, Ciarán Hinds (The Terror) stars as Eamon, the bigwig who’s above Frank on the gangster food chain. Every scene he shares with Gillen is phenomenal as these two heavy hitters size each other up.

Ultimately, though, if it weren’t for the cast elevating the material, Kin would be a pretty derivative gangster show. Love/Hate succeeded because that show was filled with colorful characters. In Kin, Mickey is far too quick to concede defeat when it comes to winning custody, and it makes it hard to sympathize with his plight. Jimmy’s wife, Amanda (Clare Dunne), is actually much more successful as a character who’s conflicted about her involvement in her husband’s business (she’s in charge of the car dealership they use to launder their money). On the one hand, she’s determined to keep her sons from following in their father’s footsteps, but when tragedy strikes, it’s Amanda who’s often the most ruthless and unforgiving when it comes to how they should respond.

Kin premieres September 9th on AMC+. I’ve seen the first three episodes.

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