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9th December 2015

TV Binge: Fargo

This TV ‘adaptation’ of the Coen brothers’ classic movie, Fargo, is a black comedy gem that fully deserves its high acclaim

Okay then… How does one go about reviewing a TV show like Fargo? Well to put it bluntly, Fargo is the best show currently on TV. When it was announced that FX would be developing a show based on the 1996 Coen Brothers’ film of the same name, there was much concern over what route the writers would take. Would this be a straight remake with a new cast, or had TV fallen into the same dull, sequel factory that is choke-holding mainstream Hollywood?

Once the true intentions of the show’s creators became clear, that there were no direct connections with the film, and that the Coen brothers themselves were in full support of the show in the capacity of producers, all anxiety was lifted. Fargo does take much of its inspiration from the Oscar winning film.

The main similarity that is cleverly retained is the distinctive humour; ever-present is the black, deadpan comedy that made the film such a hit amongst cinema-goers.

The same central plotline is built upon in both seasons of the show; a somewhat accidental murder is committed by a seemingly innocent and unsuspecting individual. This leads to ever-growing suspicion befalling said character as he/she must deal with the consequences of their action. Throw into the mix an array of shady criminals, earnest cops, ruthless hit-men, and you have one heck of an adventure, which manages to twist and turn in the most unexpected directions.

All the mayhem is set against the winter landscapes of Minnesota, providing a stark juxtaposition of cinematography. The sight of red blood mixed with white snow never loses its elemental power. The film itself won the Academy Award for best writing directly for the screen, and that same original and creative writing is evident in the small screen counterpart by Noah Hawley. The first season was rightly adored by critics, and went on to win best mini-series at both the Golden Globes and the Emmys. What’s most impressive about Fargo is the assured sense of storytelling. The ten episode anthological structure has allowed for greater depth, permitting characters to be fully fleshed out, and most importantly, a fitting climax is achieved to each story. The writing would not be the same, however, if not delivered so perfectly by the fine ensemble cast. The star turn in the first season belonged to Billy Bob Thornton’s inscrutable antagonist Lorne Malvo. The second season has no clear stand-outs, but has, instead, an eclectic collection of exceptional performances across the board.

Now two seasons in, Fargo has already established its own identity; achieving the unthinkable and surpassing the film in quality. So, is FX renewing Fargo for a third season? You betcha!

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