Following the trend of reimagining classic films into television series, Fargo has been nothing but a pleasant surprise. Although it samples none of the original plot from the 1996 Coen Brothers film, there is a similar air to the cold, quirky and dark television drama set in Minnesota. The series stars Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard, an impotent husband who strives for the ability to defend himself and reclaim some of his masculinity. Innocently he falls into the dark world of Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thornton) and in almost no time at all, everything goes from snowy white to blood red when Malvo kills for Lester. Malvo continues his seemingly calculated path of destruction, which quickly gains the attention of the local authorities. Two opponents to Malvo in this “good vs. evil” story are Deputy Molly Solverson (Allison Tolman) and Officer Gus Grimly (Colin Hanks), who are both led by their intuitions on who is responsible for the murders that arise in the area. The Molly Solverson character seemingly takes from Frances McDormand’s role in the original film, in that they are both sweet, kind faces, but with cunning capabilities that should not be ignored.
The show touches greatly on the themes of secrecy, betrayal and murder, with its unseen crime underbelly that circulates around Lorne Malvo. Although there are several dramatic themes that drive the series forward, Fargo, similar to its film predecessor, is very darkly comedic. Whether it be Lorne Malvo turning down the offer for a zombie survival pack from a drug dealer, Molly dining with her sister who discusses her insane and uncharacteristic sexcapades, or the sweet exclamations of Lester when he’s upset (“Oh heck! Oh-h heck!”), there are multiple moments woven into the series where a viewer can find themselves laughing out loud.
Fargo is laden with incredible actors; along with Martin Freeman, Billy Bob Thornton, Colin Hanks and relative newcomer Allison Tolman, there are multiple familiar faces that make the series even more enjoyable to watch. Bob Odenkirk, who proved his dramatic chops in AMC’s Breaking Bad and the Oscar nominated film Nebraska, stars as Bill Oswalt, the bumbling deputy with whom Molly must work with in order to solve the murders surrounding Lester. His portrayal of the unintuitive simpleton adds a lot of comedy to his scenes, as well as a great juxtaposition to Molly, as she is undoubtedly the smarter of the two, but cannot overstep her boundaries. Keith Carradine also stars in the series, and has firmly implanted himself in television history in multiple roles, one of which was when he starred as Wild Bill Hickock on HBO’s Deadwood. Carradine, although an undoubtedly versatile actor, returns in the paternal male archetype of which he has played time and time again, playing the wise father of Molly Solverson. Along with Odenkirk and Carradine, Glenn Howerton, most known for his role as the narcissistic Dennis on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Joey King, who played Christine in the 2013 chilling horror film The Conjuring, and Rachel Blanchard, who played the hilarious American girlfriend to Jeremy Usborne on Peep Show, all have recurring roles on the series.
Fargo also has extraordinary cinematography that is set in the large snowy fields and small, simple townships of Minnesota. There are several moments where the long and icy roads or frozen bodies of water add to the theme that there is something dark under the pristine snow that covers the surface. Between the incredible acting, witty and thoughtful writing, and pleasing cinematography, Fargo is well worth the watch for old fans of the Coen Brothers film and newcomers alike.