News

7 Things to Prime You for WGN's Outsiders

The Cast Promises Something You’ve Never Seen on TV Before

by | January 26, 2016 | Comments

Outsiders, WGN’s new series about a wild clan living atop a mountain in rural Kentucky, may not be the first show we’ve seen set in Appalachia (we still miss you, Justified), but we’ve never seen Appalachia done quite like this before.

From award-winning playwright Peter Mattei, veteran TV producer Peter Tolan, and beloved actor Paul Giamatti comes the wild tale of the Farrell clan, an extended family who has occupied the top of Shay Mountain for over 200 years, living off the grid and only interacting with society when absolutely necessary. When a threat upon their way of life finds its way up the mountain, the Farrells respond the only way they know how — with hair flying, ATVs revving, and guns at the ready. Oh, and plenty of moonshine too.

Here’s everything you should know before you watch season one of Outsiders, premiering Tuesday, Jan. 26, at 9 p.m. on WGN.


This Is a Very Well-Researched Version of Appalachia

Outsiders2

Forget what you think you know about Appalachia because Outsiders plans to dispel a number of misconceptions for you. According to actress Christina Jackson, who plays the beautiful young store clerk Sally-Ann, the cast makes sure that they play their characters simple, but not stupid. “That’s a myth about the Appalachians — that they’re just uneducated and they live crazy and wild lives.”

Some of the cast visited the Appalachian Media Institute and the Institute of Appalachian Studies at the University of Kentucky to get into character, including Thomas M. Wright, who also spent time with coal miners and local law enforcement to better understand the culture for his character Sheriff Wade Houghton.

But to be clear, don’t think that the Farrells themselves are too representative of people in the area. Laughing a little, actor David Morse, who plays the formidable Big Foster, told Rotten Tomatoes, “The Farrell life and the family that we’re playing, I think, is a little bit different than we might find normally up there.”


These Are People Who Have Long-Established Traditions

Outsiders7

Under a lush canopy of trees in the verdant world of the mountaintop, the Farrells are a group of people who have known the same way of life for over 200 years, living by their own laws on zero money.

“There’s a world that’s never really been seen,” said Kyle Gallner, who plays a young inquisitive man named Hasil who’s fascinated with life down the mountain.”These people have their own rules, their own customs, and their own way of life.”

The politics within the clan will be explored as early as the first episode when Morse’s character, Foster Farrell the 6th, realizes that his long-promised anointment as the Bren’in (the Farrells’ king) is delayed by his mother, Lady Ray, when another clan member returns to the mountain — and let’s just say that his reaction is pretty extreme.


There’s Something Appealing About Living Off the Grid

Outsiders3

Most of us couldn’t go a day without our devices, but the simple way of the Farrells’ life is not without its appeal. For show creator Mattei, existence off the grid is one of his favorite parts of the show.

“I think I’ve just always been fascinated with people who are living alternative lifestyles — you know, any kind of weirdo cult, hippie communes, gypsy gangs, biker clans, and all that kind of stuff,” Mattei told RT. “I think a lot about technology… and how people don’t have conversations anymore; they just text each other… So thinking about people who lived in a completely alternative [lifestyle] was an interesting way to question the world that the rest of us inhabit.”


The Show Deals With Substance Abuse In a Surprising Way

Outsiders5

The Farrells love a good moonshine party, but it’s another character who struggles the most with substances in the early episodes of season one. Kentucky State Deputy Sheriff Houghton, who is among the fifth generation of another Appalachian family, has a serious pill problem and it definitely affects his job.

“That’s a very real thing down there — a real epidemic,” said Wright, who visited a local drug treatment facility to research his character. “I spent time [with] people who are dealing with those sorts of issues… they talk about it stealing a whole generation of people in Appalachia.”


The Women Are Just As — If Not More — Badass As the Men

Outsiders4

G’winveer (Gillian Alexy), the center of a love triangle between her distant cousins Lil’ Foster and Asa, is one of the most valued members of the clan. And just because she is the best healer on Shay Mountain doesn’t mean that she can’t also inflict some serious harm.

“She is no wallflower, that’s for sure,” said Alexy. “So I think that was one of the biggest appeals — being able to play a woman in this world who was just not going to sit down and shut up. She was going to tell it how it is and get in the fight, roll up her sleeves, and be just as much a part of it, and [as] tough and strong-willed as the men.”


The TV Pedigree Is a Selling Point for All Involved

Outsiders6

Though Mattei is best known for his plays, he’s done enough TV to know that executive producer Peter Tolan (Rescue Me, The Larry Sanders Show) is a big deal.

“I had done some writing for TV but never got on staff or created a show before, by any means,” Mattei mused. “So I kind of knew going in that when WGN picked up the show, I would be paired with some kind of crazy, drug addict, douchebag showrunner and that my life would be hell.”

When Mattei found out that Tolan got the script, his first thought was that, because of Tolan’s stature in the business, it wasn’t going to happen. “To my amazement and shock, he loved it and turns out to be the greatest guy to work with that I could possibly have hoped for.”

For Ryan Hurst (Sons of Anarchy), the selling point was none other than his TV dad, David Morse (The Green Mile, The Hurt Locker). “For me, to be totally honest, I wanted to read for Hasil,” Hurst, who ended up taking the part of Lil’ Foster, explained. “And I was like, ‘That’s the only character that I wanna read for,’ and they were like, ‘You’re way too old,’ and I said, ‘Forget it.’ and they said, ‘Are you sure?’ and I said, ‘Yeah, forget it,’ and they said, ‘Well, David Morse is in it,’ and I said, ‘Aw, s–t…. he’s my favorite actor.’”


Kilts Are Sexy As Hell

Outsiders8

Take out the ATVs and you may as well be looking at the cast of Braveheart — or maybe even Mad Max. The accents, the long hair, and the tattoos were all aspects of the Outsiders’ world-building that really excited Gallner, and the one idea that he fought for was Hasil’s kilt. And let’s be honest: it’s working.

Jackson, who plays Hasil’s love interest in the show, is definitely on board with the styling choice. “I’m going to say it all day,” she told RT. “The kilt is a real selling point for me.”


Outsiders premieres on Tuesday, January 26 at 9pm on WGN; read reviews here.

  • Schteveo

    Here’s the Biggest lie about the show, in this review….

    “That’s a myth about the Appalachians — that they’re just uneducated and they live crazy and wild lives.”

    …yet, that is precisely the way they were portrayed! I was put off enough by the fist fight for ‘funsies’ at the first glimpse up the mountain. But when the ‘first night’ party and there was a couple having sex, in full sight of everyone, I stopped watching. Hell, I’ve spent time around outlaw bikers, and even they don’t just drop their Wranglers and go for it.

    In short, this was the typical, NYC / LA view of the south, once AGAIN. They showed the usual, a bunch of ‘cousins’ living on family land, an extended bunch of uneducated, moonshine drinkin’, sister humpin’ morons.

    But the real question is this, WHY does political correctness cover EVERY group of minorities in the country, except those who live in the south or who speak with a drawl?

    • carecanada

      Wow. I think I’ll give this show a pass. ( I lived in Appalachia for two years…).For me, James Dickey’s “Deliverance” was about the limit of what I could stomach. It was a long time ago…I’d like to see a sympathetic treatment of Appalachia for the 21st Century!

  • Randall Porter

    Very well researched…ha ha how about no want to mine coal any more. No one in there right mine will spend any money to open a new coal mine. Hundreds of mines are being closed every year. Now if they had done just alitte research they would have change ”coal’ to ‘natural gas’. Natural gas there would be hundreds of drillers all over that mountain in days. No force on earth could of stopped them. Clown Shoes.

Tag Cloud

Sundance Now series films toronto stoner FX Best and Worst festivals Pop TV 71st Emmy Awards anime Set visit adventure Disney+ Disney Plus Awards Black History Month Trivia cults Reality Tumblr name the review award winner Rocky NBC Box Office comic ABC festival Acorn TV Classic Film natural history WGN Thanksgiving joker Starz hist crime thriller Nickelodeon Quiz Hallmark Countdown news comic books police drama animated anthology worst movies golden globes boxing Holiday cars Elton John Mindy Kaling satire Video Games Watching Series Hallmark Christmas movies San Diego Comic-Con venice HBO Shudder Marvel Studios sitcom Television Academy cancelled Shondaland The Purge rotten streaming tv talk Musical MCU Toys dc medical drama Family TBS movie nfl robots Lifetime Christmas movies Podcast History TV Land foreign Sci-Fi football theme song Alien independent miniseries cinemax french ABC Family crossover BET Awards dragons Discovery Channel period drama romance TLC Crackle Emmys cancelled television Polls and Games political drama ID FOX chucky YouTube Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt spain Kids & Family Opinion hispanic Apple TV+ Holidays Television Critics Association E3 MTV Summer Sundance DC Universe Brie Larson TIFF PlayStation elevated horror transformers USA TV renewals cats Marvel Television thriller documentary Baby Yoda black 99% Anna Paquin Fox Searchlight book Schedule OWN travel Mudbound Music Travel Channel Endgame Dark Horse Comics Marathons spy thriller witnail blaxploitation psycho PaleyFest Ghostbusters A&E Amazon Comics on TV sequels Star Wars singing competition National Geographic obituary canceled Tubi Superheroe true crime The CW Rom-Com fast and furious Certified Fresh twilight Country President Food Network Sneak Peek TCA Awards Grammys Cartoon Network cancelled TV series A24 fresh Year in Review CNN historical drama quibi dceu video on demand zero dark thirty Hulu Freeform Trophy Talk all-time Horror Chernobyl 24 frames Superheroes 2018 Amazon Studios GoT latino doctor who what to watch Turner Western technology zombie DirecTV Disney streaming service 4/20 Trailer Star Trek werewolf The Walking Dead composers mission: impossible Fox News Adult Swim Reality Competition Sony Pictures Pop Apple Song of Ice and Fire crime drama laika Film WarnerMedia stand-up comedy 2016 rt archives Biopics Premiere Dates Comedy Lionsgate IFC Films El Rey mutant serial killer Avengers TV RT History BBC ratings SXSW justice league Spike American Society of Cinematographers Mystery strong female leads space Nominations die hard APB television Marvel Rock 2017 spider-man Epix comics supernatural jamie lee curtis a nightmare on elm street VH1 USA Network Mary Poppins Returns Sundance TV 2020 discovery archives LGBTQ Ellie Kemper TCA Winter 2020 DC streaming service toy story Pixar video scary movies Film Festival politics New York Comic Con Paramount australia FX on Hulu TruTV OneApp Pet Sematary LGBT nature Warner Bros. Captain marvel DC Comics zombies kids sequel romantic comedy classics Black Mirror game show HBO Go superhero BET Ovation dark TCM Fall TV 20th Century Fox HBO Max ghosts Martial Arts crime renewed TV shows free movies Character Guide CBS All Access Interview Winter TV CMT BBC One spanish YA Syfy DGA cartoon remakes indie Amazon Prime Video AMC Photos Pirates reviews Tomatazos Tarantino slashers Christmas parents Awards Tour Peacock Masterpiece Bravo TCA See It Skip It Walt Disney Pictures CW Seed christmas movies IFC casting Red Carpet criterion Rocketman First Look Valentine's Day Comedy Central children's TV reboot The Witch Netflix Nat Geo Creative Arts Emmys sports Spectrum Originals 45 aliens Amazon Prime Writers Guild of America 2019 Lifetime cooking dogs NYCC YouTube Premium Fantasy Musicals japanese Super Bowl batman Cosplay adaptation First Reviews X-Men SDCC finale talk show based on movie canceled TV shows asian-american TCA 2017 Netflix Christmas movies cancelled TV shows Hear Us Out harry potter YouTube Red ITV scorecard Pride Month halloween tv Vudu Disney Channel Winners Heroines Calendar vampires Chilling Adventures of Sabrina documentaries Extras teaser rotten movies we love Binge Guide PBS screenings blockbuster Disney Plus Election spanish language best game of thrones comiccon The Academy BAFTA Apple TV Plus GIFs 21st Century Fox critics Mary poppins revenge Arrowverse VICE breaking bad Funimation richard e. Grant indiana jones Women's History Month south america VOD facebook Action Drama james bond cops deadpool diversity Turner Classic Movies hollywood Emmy Nominations halloween The Arrangement FXX child's play green book Cannes spinoff BBC America emmy awards Oscars GLAAD Teen boxoffice Academy Awards disaster Stephen King directors nbcuniversal ESPN docudrama TNT Disney 2015 italian mockumentary RT21 universal monsters war screen actors guild biography 72 Emmy Awards versus Mary Tyler Moore Britbox Spring TV Esquire Showtime Infographic 007 science fiction comedies dramedy worst E! Logo SundanceTV franchise Crunchyroll Lucasfilm sag awards MSNBC binge CBS psychological thriller Paramount Network unscripted Animation movies social media Universal Columbia Pictures concert Comic Book stop motion