Series Delights Fargo Fans

Sarada Symonds, Editor-in-Chief

Fargo, a television series adaptation of the cult film by the Coen Brothers, started airing on FX on April 15. With a new story and cast of characters, the show captures the feel and humor of the original movie.

As a fan of the 1996 movie, I was looking forward to FX’s version of the tale, and expected the plot of the movie to simply be adapted for television. However, Fargo has a completely different plot than the film, and introduces all new characters. Yet, the film certainly retains the dark humor and strange appeal of the movie.

The Coen Brothers are producers for the show, and have written 4 of the 10 episodes in the miniseries. An anthology series, each season will feature a new crime case and characters. Of course, like the original, the television show takes place in a cold, snowy small town, and the characters all adopt the eccentricities and uniqueness of small town folk, including Minnesota accents and figures of speech.

The show is comprised of several tales that are slowly woven together, creating a complex and interesting show that humorously takes place in the unassuming town of Bemidji, Minnesota.

We are first introduced to Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thorton), a hitman traveling from town to town. A chance encounter with insurance salesman Lester Nygaard (Martin Freeman), a man who is constantly put down by his wife and family, sets off a chain of unexpected events that causes upset throughout Minnesota.

Similar to the film, it is the characters that truly sets it apart from other crime shows and dramas. Malvo, a hitman with no rules, is the connecting thread in the show, causing chaos wherever he goes, and delivering hilarious deadpan one liners.

Nygaard is a much more sympathetic character than his film counterpart Jerry Lundegard, and his bumbling crimes, instigated by Malvo, seem more pathetic than anything else. Policewoman Molly Solverson is also, at first glance, familiar to fans of the movie, but, although she shares Marge Gunderson’s determination and competence, she is only a deputy and is often deterred by her superiors.

By the 2nd episode, we are introduced to hitmen Mr. Numbers (Adam Goldberg) and his partner, the intimidating but deaf Mr. Wrench (Russell Harvard), as well as local supermarket magnate Stavros Milo (Oliver Platt) and Duluth Deputy Grimly (Colin Hanks).

Like FX’s American Horror Story and HBO’s True Detective, Fargo is an anthology series, so the entire story arc will be completed in its 10 episode run. To me, this simply means that each episode is filled with especially deliberate moments, and each scene adds to character development. In this sense, both the acting and writing are particularly superb.

The nuances used by the actors have created life like characters that are fleshed out more and more as the series progresses.  Fargo features an ensemble cast, including Billy Bob Thorton (having retired from directing), Martin Freeman (The Hobbit), Bob Odenkirk (Breaking Bad), newcomer Allison Tolman, and many others. Glenn Howerton (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) makes an appearance, as well as comedians Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele (Key & Peele).

Thematically, Fargo is similar to shows such as Breaking Bad. Outwardly, they are the complete opposite (even their settings could not be farther apart- hot, sunny New Mexico in comparison to the frozen wasteland in Minnesota). While Breaking Bad centers around family, Fargo is about isolation. However, at their core, both shows focus on man’s ability to commit evil, how even the average person is capable of horrible atrocities. They also share the same black humor that fans of the movie will love.

Fargo is quickly becoming one of my favorite shows on television, and I highly recommend it to fans of the film.

Fargo airs on Tuesdays at 10 on FX.