I was in Fargo, ND a couple of weeks ago, so I felt like I couldn’t not watch FX’s new show Fargo. So on Wednesday night I hit up my DVR (the show airs on Tuesday, but I had a thing), and like 4 million+ other viewers, was treated to an incredibly well done adaptation of the 1996 Coen Brothers classic. From the looks of it, series creator Noah Hawley has got a winner.
There are still 9 episodes to go, but the pilot was what a television pilot should be; good enough to warrant an internet list about why it was really good. So with that, here are some reasons why Fargo could (very easily) end up being this year’s finest television spectacle:
1. Lorne Malvo Is The New Rusht Cole
A good chunk of Matthew McConaughey’s early 2014 decimation can be attributed to his already iconic performance as the sapient Rusht Cole — the True Detective co-star will likely rack up an award or two at this year’s Emmy Rossums, and deservedly so.
Billy Bob Thornton’s Lorne Malvo doesn’t talk with the same rambling mystique as Rusht, but he’s perfected an unmistakable brand of eerie, #nextlevel charisma that’s sure to make for one of the more ominous, yet celebrated characters in recent memory.
2. Character Transformation
Billy Bob’s co-star, Martin Freeman, plays an equally compelling Lester Nygaard. A “loser” in every sense of the word, Nygaard is a bumbling life insurance salesmen with a much more successful younger brother, and a wife who’s long since stopped respecting him.
The show appears to be all about giving this spineless man the toughest spine of them all, and it should be fascinating to watch the inevitable growing pains. For starters, here’s what we’re working with:
3. It’s Got That Game Of Thrones “Anything Can Happen” Sort Of Feel
People die a bunch in the first episode. Doesn’t seem like anyone is safe — unless their episode count is already displayed on IMDB.
4. It’s Got Colin “Orange County” Hanks
In the humble opinion of this internet user, Colin “Orange County” Hanks is amongst one of the most underrated actors out there. He might not survive the first episode (then again he might…in 2014 internet you need to give ambiguous misdirection spoilers in order to avoid actual spoilers), but his episode one performance, if brief, was rather spectacular.
Again, if he survives, his cop character has some real potential.
5. It’s As Funny As It Is Dark
One of the reasons HBO’s Non-False Detective was so compelling was because it went places most shows don’t go; to the unforgiving depths of psychological brutality you only really see in shows on the level of The Sopranos and The Wire.
Only one episode in, and Fargo seems to already be going to those places. Malvo’s big reveal to Lester, “You spend your whole life thinking there are rules. There aren’t.” feels like a challenge that’s gonna set up the rest of the series.
The difference with Fargo, though, is that all this darkness seems to have almost zero place in the culture of midwest niceness. When a society predicated on unlocked doors is confronted with the more uncomfortable components of human nature, the contrast makes for endless humor. It’s like watching a overly benevolent con-man.
6. Solid Pacing
Maybe just a commentary on the pilot, but the pilot was like 70 minutes long and I didn’t pause it once. Don’t see that every day.
7. The Assertive “Fargo” Contrast
The Fargo area is known for their trademark “midwestern niceness” — a quality perhaps best exemplified through the characters of Molly Solverson; a young, talented police offer who’s as ambitious as she is nice. There’s a scene in which forgoes a family activity in favor of going to the office, and the way the scene is executed is rather amazing; the way it plays out simply wouldn’t be possible in any other area of the country.
This contrast could only be good; it’ll allow characters to have a versatility and depth that most characters simply can’t pull off.
8. It Fuses The Best Qualities Of Really Good Shows
The first episode seems to have taken some of the brighter qualities of recent critically acclaimed shows — the dark ambition of House of Cards, the philosophical boldness of True Detective, the no one is safe attitude of Game Of Thrones — and put them all into one…while also, without a doubt, creating something that’s uniquely itself. Although Fargo has all these traits, it definitely makes all of them their own.
All in all, pretty excited for next Tuesday.