A common misconception exists amongst English-speaking folk. Thanks to mass media and those annoying books that claim to know what words mean, humans have fallen under the delusion that the word ‘best’ is subjective.
Well, it isn’t.
For those of you who haven’t run off to cry into the DVD case of Game of Thrones season whatever, here are the completely objective reasons why Fargo is the absolute best television program available on any channel, streaming service, or flight entertainment unit. Full stop. In pen. No liquid paper.
1. Epic episode openings
Each week we sink into the Fargo snow in a way that feels like a classic feature film. These grandiose, graceful overtures set the stage for what is to come over the next 50-odd minutes.
2. The crumbling Gerhart legacy reminds us to call our mums
It ain’t easy being a Gerhart. When first introduced to the ageing criminal enterprise they were already hopping on one leg, and the season continually kicks and niggles at the other. The knowing dread and pain in the way Gerhart matriarch Floyd (Jean Smart) moves through the world is enough to make us promote Mum to the number one spot on our speed dials.
3. Jean Smart and Ted Danson playing against type
If you missed the late-eighties or nineties due to not yet being a foetus, you should know that both Jean Smart and Ted Danson were once sitcom stars. Smart was the naïve office manager at Designing Women’s interior design firm, and Danson was the womanising owner of the Cheers bar.
Since then, Smart has been cast for her sex appeal and femininity (Frasier, 24), and Danson as the likeable or detestable asshole (Becker, Damages). So it’s refreshing to see both veterans play against type. Danson gets the opportunity to be polite and affable, while Smart gets to try warts-and-all, and they both deliver surprising and nuanced performances.
4. Jesse Plemons
From Landry Clark in Friday Night Lights to Walter White’s replacement cooking partner in Breaking Bad, to method binge-eating for this role. All hail the official arrival of a new star.
5. The fact it cast these guys:
6. It nails (the rarely successful) split-screen storytelling
What is this, the year 2000? Darren Aronofsky all but killed the editing device with his MTV-inspired Requiem For A Dream, and since then only first-year film students (and Soderbergh) have bothered to give it a go. Fargo manages to give the split-screen new life, making each section of the frame work together visually, kinetically and with complete fluidity.
7. It can be moose-shit absurd yet remain thoroughly engrossing
8. It’s completely different to season two yet feels like the same show
Season one was small-time in comparison to this year’s operatic villain-fest. A bit of Tarantino, a bit of Breaking Bad, and a whole lot of rising tension. Anyone could bite the bullet at any time and we thrived on theorising who, when, why, and how.
9. This existential teenager…
10. We’re just partial to the dialogue, on account of them being pretty words in the ear, is all. You Betcha.
11. Somehow we don’t completely hate this mass-murderer…
Bear is the type of villain you half expect to turn good at any time. Like a real grizzly, he looks as if he’d enjoy giving a cuddle and a clobbering in equal measure.
Oh, and he’s played by Aussie Angus Samson. National pride, and all that.
13. Mike Milligan making velvet look like sandpaper
The man from Kansas City is too smooth for Tarantino.
14. The creative team possesses big, brass, creative snowballs
If the writers want to suddenly frame an entire episode with narration from a fictional textbook on a fictionalised version of the battle of Sioux Falls, then they’ll dang-right suddenly frame an entire episode with narration from a fictional textbook on a fictionalised version of the battle of Sioux Falls, and no heated blogger or historical purist is going to alter that fact.
15. It achieved the seemingly impossible and successfully adapted the Coen Brothers
Prior to Fargo, the idea of adapting a Coen Brothers film for television was laughable. Now, all accusations of hubris are more than quashed, and the television landscape can look forward to future reworkings of The Royal Tenenbaums and Mulholland Drive.
An all-new season 4 Fargo story will premiere with two weeks of double episodes, beginning 8.30pm Thursday 8 October on SBS. Episodes will continue weekly at 9.30pm from Thursday 22 October. New episodes will be available at SBS On Demand each week on the same day as broadcast. Relive the first three standalone seasons of Fargo now at SBS On Demand.
Watch the season 4 trailer here:
Missed season 2? Start with the first episode: