I promised a review of Fargo series 3. I’ll start with the two-word version: Watch It.
The last episode aired this week, so if you haven’t already discovered this show you can now enjoyably sit and binge-watch the whole thing. My only caution would be, whenever you start you should be prepared to lose the next ten hours. The cliffhangers are brutal. And they are not cheap, contrived or melodramatic.
In my opinion, it’s the best thing to come out of television this year. Possibly the best thing to have come out of television in a very long time. I’ll admit that I don’t watch a lot of TV, but when I do I’m pretty selective – especially when it comes to drama. Generally, if a show has rave reviews and a lot of my friends are recommending it I’ll give it an episode, maybe two. Nine times out of ten, that’s as much as I’ll watch. I’m more forgiving with sci-fi, horror, fantasy and cozy British mysteries…but Fargo is none of those. To give you an idea of my baseline, Breaking Bad, which is in roughly the same genre as Fargo, only held my attention for about six episodes.
I watched, and tremendously enjoyed, season one of Fargo earlier this year. I only watched one episode of season two. But season three blew me away. Basically, it’s everything that I hoped the new Twin Peaks would be, but it’s definitely not a Twin Peaks knock-off.
It’s virtues include:
1. There are no bad episodes. I’m not even sure that there are any bad scenes.
2. The acting is consistently good, and frequently fantastic.
3. There are no cardboard cut-out one dimensional characters in the main cast. The widow Goldfarb is as close as it gets, and even her plot has an interesting twist to it.
4. The plotting is jaw-droppingly good. And drum-tight. It twists and turns constantly. It’s almost never predictable. And (this is borderline miraculous) character motivations are consistent and believable throughout. They don’t break character for the sake of plot contrivances.
5. The main villain is even better than the villain who stole the show in the first series.6. He doesn’t steal the show, because a lot of the other characters are just as good.
7. The cinematography is over-the-top gorgeous.
8. The composition is stunning. Original formal ideas abound, and they are executed flawlessly.
9. It’s feminist without being misandrist and without tying feminism to sexual liberation. And without making women out to be victims. And without being preachy or beating you over the head with it.
10. Female-female bromance scene that is emotionally impactful and NOT CHEESY!!! (btw we need a word for the female equivalent of bromance. Someone should get on that.)
11. Ray Wise plays God.
12. Oh yeah. There’s supernatural, religious, philosophical and moral content. That’s not cheesy. Or preachy. And doesn’t suck.
13. The music.
14. The casting.
15. The directing.
16. The dialogue.
17. Female characters that look like human beings, not fashion models, are shown to have sex lives and to be desirable to men. This is not portrayed as a) surprising or b) the central concern of their existence.
18. Experimental and innovative features that are actually interesting, and that are subservient to the storytelling and don’t across as pretentious.
19. Lacks lame plot-lines that don’t contribute to the story and that you don’t care about. Occasionally there are things that seem kind of random early on in the story. They become important by the end.
20. The ending. A lot of reviewers believe this is the show’s one fault, but I can’t explain why they’re wrong without spoilers. It’s not what you expect and it’s not what you think you want. But it is exactly right, and brilliant.
Image: promotional photo for Fargo (Season 3)
Stay in touch! Like Catholic Authenticity on Facebook: