Byron Balasco Q&A: ‘Kingdom’ creator
During our recent interview (listen above), “Kingdom” creator Byron Balasco revealed that the idea for this drama series set in the world of mixed martial arts came from his longtime fascination with the sport. “I really became interested in the people who would choose to do that for a living. It’s such an extreme life to choose.” As he elaborates, “Dangerous, no security at all. The deeper I got into it, the more apparent it was that it’s a great place for a family drama.”
Balasco cut his teeth as a writer and producer on such varied shows as “Huff” and “Without a Trace” before creating this Audience Network series. Much of the action focuses on fight trainer Alvey Kulina (Frank Grillo), who juggles running his gym with keeping his family together. He manages the careers of his two sons, Nate (Nick Jonas) and Jay (Jonathan Tucker), while dealing with his pregnant girlfriend (Kiele Sanchez) and drug-addicted ex-wife (Joanna Going).
“I think a lot of the themes of it are very relatable to people,” he says. “They’re just on a little bit of a heightened plane, a little more visceral.” As he explains, “It’s not a big premise kind of show. Really, it was thinking about what was the best way to explore all of these themes, and I think that’s through a family.” For Balaso, “much of the subculture of MMA in terms of who’s drawn to it and why, it’s a lot of people who need a place in the world, who need a family, who are looking to be loved or to hold onto love. They just need that sense of community and camaraderie like we all do.”
“Kingdom” recently returned with the the second half of season two. “Everything we’ve done up to this point is now coming home to roost,” teases Balasco of the next 10 episodes. “It’s really kind of a do-or-die moment for the gym and for these people’s lives.”