This article was originally published at ComicBook.Com on April 27, 2017.
Fargo returns to television in just one week for its 3rd season. The series has been established as a pillar of the seemingly never-ending “Golden Age of Television”. If you’re unfamiliar with Fargo, it’s an anthology series loosely based on the film of the same name from 1996. Every new season takes place in the same general setting – the northern Midwest – across a wide span of decades. They are connected by loose references and a handful of characters, but every set of 10 episodes is a self-contained story blending crime with black comedy. It is an outstanding example of television and one of the most unique features to be found today.
However, there seems to have been something lost in defining Fargo as “elite TV”. Its comparisons to Breaking Bad or The Sopranos are well deserved, but this status also seems to diminish or undersell its quirkier elements. The truth about Fargo is that while it is artful television, it is also very entertaining television. The concepts of elite and genre TV may be discussed like they are parts of two different worlds with different audiences, but that’s a lie. Fargo spans that gap with ease.
So while the focus of Fargo may rest on its awards and critical praise, that shouldn’t discourage viewers looking for a good hour every week that will help them rest, laugh, and offer a few thrills. So if you’re someone who comes to ComicBook.Com looking for updates on superhero TV and other great genre-focused series, this is why we would encourage you to check out Fargo as well.
Roots With The Coen Brothers
The crossover between artful execution and mass entertainment is something found in the origins of the series. Throughout their career the Coen Brothers have created a wide array of films that span genres and consistently surprise. Hail, Caesar, their most recent outing, is an excellent example of how many different tricks they have up their sleeves. It leapt from historical narrative to song-and-dance routines, and then to old school comedy routines. The variety on display was stunning and it shows just how wide a swath the directors have cut in their storytelling.
The original Fargo was a regional crime story with strong overtones of black comedy. That is something the show has captured very well, but it is not devoted solely to this one film. It regularly references and pulls from the entire Coens catalog. That means it can be more funny, wild, and weird than its nominal source material. The second season delved into an alien conspiracy that went in a direction almost no viewers expected. This level of freedom has allowed Fargo to use the Coens and all of their great films as a springboard into new territory. If you’re a fan of the movies, then you’ll appreciate the many connections. However, if you’re not familiar, then there’s no reason you won’t enjoy the series and you’ll likely find yourself seeking out some films after the newest season concludes.
Crafted By The Best
We’ve made the case that modern TV can be every bit as good as film on a regular basis. The talent attracted by Fargo goes a long way in making that case. Each new season of the show has attracted immense acting talents, and the third season is no exception. Ewan McGregor, who most recently starred in Trainspotting 2, is coming to the small screen playing 2 unique roles as a set of twins. He’ll be accompanied by the likes of Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World and 10 Cloverfield Lane), David Thewlis (The Harry Potter films and MacBeth), and Jim Gaffigan of standup fame.
In this universe of stars, the shining center of Fargo must be Noah Hawley. Fans of FX’s most recent hit series Legion likely know his name already. He is the showrunner of that fascinating dive into X-Men lore and was given control based on his outstanding work on Fargo. If you love Legion, then you’ll recognize a lot of similar elements in his other FX work. It is a visually stunning work that is crafted to function perfectly both as individual episodes and entire seasons. Actors give surprising performances and directors bring A-game that is recognizable for its intricacies. Hawley is 2 for 2 on television and the most important element in making Fargo the knockout series we should all be watching next week.
Action, Horror, Comedy, and More
Of course, there is the question of what you’re looking for in a television series. A great premise and incredible talent isn’t enough if something just isn’t your bag. That’s part of what makes Fargo great though; it’s flexible. At its heart Fargo is a crime story and a story of the Midwest. It presents is setting with stunning accuracy (coming from someone who’s spent most of his life there) and makes the crime genre work for it as well as anything else currently airing. Yet these are just its two most obvious pillars. There’s a whole lot more going on.
When it comes to comedy, Fargo is hard to beat on a weekly basis. Nick Offerman’s performance as a drunken, libertarian lawyer last season is still one of the funniest things you can search on YouTube. The action beats of the series are real knockouts. Season two ended in a shootout that was better shot than most Hollywood blockbusters. When the series gets dark, it reaches realms of realistic horror that are hard to find almost anywhere. Martin Freeman’s descent from mundane husband to killer in the first season is still stunning. That’s not to mention the series’ recent forays into science fiction.
Whatever you’re looking for, Fargo likely has it. It’s a series that is based on a great premise, offers a new jumping on point with each season, and hires the absolute best to execute some excellent television. But what makes it even more exceptional is that it aspires to entertain as well as excel. Watching Fargo is a delight that stands up to the best genre TV offered today. That’s why we hope you check out the new season starting next Wednesday, April 19th.