“But I’ve already seen Fargo!”
No you haven’t, shut up. Inspired by the film of the same name by the Coen brothers’ (who act as executive producers), this new FX show is brought to you by writer Noah Hawley. A loose adaptation of the film, Hawley picks and chooses from the original to create his own characters and plotlines, but never drifts too far from the themes that made the film iconic: random absurdity peppered liberally with violence amid small-town buffoonery. And snow. Lots of snow.
If a stranger offered to kill someone who had given you hell your entire life, would you say yes or no? This is the pivotal question that sets the bizarre and brutal events of Fargo in motion, and although Lester Nygaard (Martin Freeman) doesn’t give an answer, the hired gun we’ll come to know as Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thornton) takes Lester’s hesitance as a yes, since, y’know, he didn’t say no. Now Lester, emboldened by the actions and “wise words” of this homicidal drifter, decides to take his life into his own hands. From here, things go horribly right, then wrong, and overall end up being a very cringe-inducing thing to watch. This is a show ripe with tension, and if there is release, it’s in the form of the bloody and violent.
At an even ten-episode series, the show is as tightly wrapped from start to finish as any “true story” can be, with the on-point acting of an impeccable cast to boot. Starring Colin Hanks, Bob Odenkirk, Keith Carradine and Oliver Platt, this show is not short on talent. Freeman is unrecognizable as mumbling, mid-life crisis Lester. Thornton as Malvo and the relatively unknown Alison Tolman as Deputy Molly Solverson are, without a doubt, the standouts of the series though.
While the show bears the residuals of the film, it’s undeniably distinct. It feels like a devout tribute to all things Coen: it never takes it easy on you, it never does what you expect it to do, and if there’s anything to figure out, you’re on your own with all the metaphorical philosophical ramblings grounded in the mundane.
A lot of shows are adopting an anthology style, a la American Horror Story, and Fargo too has jumped on the bandwagon. Although the musings and inventive killings of Billy Bob will be missed, it’ll be interesting to see where Hawley takes the next series of Fargo without him.