Streaming Suggestion: Fargo
Hulu: Two Seasons, 20 episodes
The scene that made “Fargo” one of the most relevant shows on television was a bathroom stall conversation between a Minnesota State Trooper and Ronald Reagan. Deputy Lou Solverson (Patrick Wilson) asks presidential hopeful Reagan (Bruce Campbell), “Do you really think we’ll get out of this mess we’re in?” Reagan responds, “Son, there’s not a challenge on God’s Earth that can’t be overcome by an American.”
“Yeah … but how?” Solverson asks. Reagan struggles for a moment to come up with an answer before silently patting Solverson on the shoulder and walking out of the bathroom.
FX’s “Fargo,” based on the movie of the same name, is an anthology show about ordinary people making dangerously stupid decisions. In the process, the show reveals the darkness creeping out of the crevices of superficially quaint small-town America. Season one’s about perpetual loser and insurance salesman Lester Nygaard (Martin Freeman) trying to man-up by “taking care” of both his abusive wife and a former school bully. Season two involves beautician and housewife Peggy Blomquist (Kirsten Dunst) trying to cover the grisly results of a hit-and-run, which happened to involve a member of a violent crime family.
Each story’s set against the frigid and lonely backdrop of Minnesota, complete with trademark accents and an exaggerated politeness from citizens that seem as though they’re hiding anxieties and stresses waiting to burst. “Fargo” showcases how small-town narratives on gender, race and social relations rub up against utter chaos, something that not even a town that's central hub’s a waffle-house can avoid. There’s also a borderline horror element that permeates “Fargo,” in that murder and madness can happen at any time, meaning that no one person or seemingly “pleasant” situation is 100 percent secure from annihilation.
“Fargo’s” writing’s sharp and frequently hilarious, with a directing style that brings back the lost cinematic art of creative framing and blocking. The performances are also consistently excellent, with the actors expertly blending the idiosyncrasies of their Minnesota accents and quirks with the relatability of their characters’ complicated nuances. Standouts include Kirsten Dunst’s manic and perfectionist -based performance as Peggy and Billy Bob Thornton’s terrifying playfulness as contract-killer Lorne Malvo. “Fargo’s” a joy to experience and says more about America today than arguably any other current TV show. Its third season drops on April 19 on FX, so once you’re done streaming seasons one and two, check out Ewan McGregor arguing with himself as a pair of brothers who like each other as much as Cain and Abel did.
Armin Haracic is a senior political science major. Contact Armin at firstname.lastname@example.org.