FX will air a marathon of Fargo Season 2 tomorrow starting at 10 a.m. ET/PT.
I can’t recommend it enough. Pretty much everything that TV does well, Fargo does very, very, very well. The cast is phenomenal; the score and soundtrack are just A+; the cinematography is outstanding. Even if the plot and dialogue were nothing special this would probably be captivating television.
But they’re something special indeed. About half of the season’s scripts are credited to showrunner Noah Hawley, the novelist and former Bones story editor who wrote all of Season 1 — and who, given the copious love for the classic 1996 Coen Brothers film on which the series is based, was as bold in doing so as (it turns out) he was justified.
You don’t need to have seen the movie or Season 1 to watch Season 2. Really. I’ve seen and enjoyed the movie but, due to a low tolerance for Billy Bob Thornton, I opted out of Season 1 despite the raves. Hearing the raves for the second season and that it was set before the first, I caught up near the end of its 10-episode run last December, just in time for the finale.
Fargo the series isn’t an adaptation of Fargo the film. You could call it a reimagining,
to use a 21st-century buzzword, as it repeats visual, musical, and narrative motifs from the movie; Hawley also homages the wider Coen Brothers canon in certain respects. To use another 21st-century buzzword, however, the film and show are set in the same universe. Whether that will become an integral part of some later season is unknown, but the series’ internal continuity is explicit.
Season 2 is actually set nearly 30 years before (and depicts a strange event that’s apparently mentioned often in) Season 1. The first season is kind-of a spoiler for the second, in fact, as you’ll be aware of the fates of some characters, although I suppose — in the name of respecting Hawley’s intent and because there is one brief moment in Season 2, whose nature I can’t divulge, that’s surely more poignant after Season 1 — viewing them in the order they were created and broadcast is still ideal.
While I’m always happy to see Patrick Wilson, here playing Minnesota state trooper Lou Solverson, the strength and depth of Season 2's cast is tremendous. Kirsten Dunst, Zahn McClarnon, Ted Danson, Jean Smart, and Jeffrey Donovan all expertly depict extremely different types of people, from a frustrated hairdresser to a stoic cop to a family crime boss, in a very small world. Bokeem Woodbine plays a role so potentially broad that you'd almost expect him to still be there when you change the channel, yet it’s controlled enough to work. Nick Offerman is Nick Offerman. And, like I said, they deliver material that’s written and shot and edited by folks at the top of their game.
Season 1 is currently available to stream on Hulu with a subscription; both seasons to date can be bought on iTunes and rented or purchased on Amazon in the US. Season 3 is scheduled to air in 2017.
Updated November 2018
Promo image © 2015 MGM Entertainment & Bluebush Productions.
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