When I first heard a TV show was being made based on the 1996 Coen Brothers movie Fargo my feelings were mixed. Growing up Fargo was one of those movies that made me fall in love with movies. I saw it a couple of years after its release (I was only 11 when it first came out) and I had never seen anything like it. It introduced me to a whole new world of film and led me not only to other Coen Brothers movies but to other classics like The Usual Suspects, True Romance and pretty much everything by Quentin Tarantino. There are a certain number of movies and TV shows that I think should never be touched by bored executives who are struggling to come up with original material and Fargo is one of them.
So, when the first episode of Fargo aired in the UK last Sunday I almost begrudgingly taped it and then a few days after I rather nervously watched it. I can quite honestly say after watching the first episode that Fargo is my life now (I know I say this often but I am fickle.) It is my new everything! Yes I am being dramatic but this show has earned it. I don’t think I have been so impressed with the first episode of a new show ever.
The most noticeable thing that this show gets right is the involvement of the Coen Brothers. Realistically this show would have only worked if they wrote some of the episodes so thank god they did. Their odd and darkly poetic style is noticeable in everything from the script to its quiet and understated atmosphere.
I found it to be a perfect mix of hilarious and horrifying. It made me chuckle, it made me grimace and I am not ashamed to admit that one moment made me feel a little teary eyed. The humour is dark and probably not to everyone’s taste but I really enjoyed it. I have often wondered if this type of genre is where the Coen Brothers feel most comfortable because it is a style that always seems to work for them better than anything else.
The other stand out aspect of the show is the acting. A lot will be said of Martin Freeman’s performance as Lester Nygaard, the worse insurance salesman in the world which is deserved as he is great and his accent is top notch but I don’t really think he is the stand out. In my opinion Billy Bob Thornton as drifter Lorne Malvo walks away with this. If I am honest I have never been much of a fan of his and I was unsure what he would do here but I was seriously impressed. Thornton could have gone to town with a character like this and drastically over played it but he quite brilliantly went in the other direction.
It would be unfair of me not to mention Allison Tolman who plays Police Officer Molly Solverson. She is very much the good to Thornton’s evil and delivers some emotional depth that would have otherwise been sorely lacking. I liked this character a lot and I know she is someone I will (probably painfully) root for as the series continues.
Fargo is a hell of a lot better than I thought it would be. If the series carries on at this standard then we are in for a hell of a treat. It is a show I think we will hear a lot more about in the coming weeks and as award season hits later in the year (just give Thornton all the Emmys). If you haven’t watched this yet pull your thumb out and get to it, I doubt you will be disappointed.
Fargo aires in the UK Channel 4 every Sunday at 9pm.