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

crime drama tv talk Cartoon Network Summer CMT natural history television Pride Month Masterpiece Brie Larson zombie stand-up comedy richard e. Grant justice league Syfy technology GIFs Tumblr harry potter crime comic movies Lifetime E3 cancelled TV shows cops Toys crime thriller USA Network Infographic ghosts MTV facebook foreign X-Men anime Star Trek USA cooking Pirates Acorn TV The Walking Dead teaser doctor who Video Games green book casting Classic Film dceu cults dragons CBS slashers nature political drama IFC Films Spectrum Originals theme song Stephen King President Oscars YouTube Countdown BBC Sci-Fi docudrama Mudbound Kids & Family Ovation A&E GoT YA Musicals Food Network First Look FX Hulu RT History Paramount Network TV renewals 20th Century Fox History based on movie halloween ABC Family war VH1 Family Disney Photos Peacock Freeform canceled Adult Swim Interview NBC TCM free movies Grammys boxoffice sitcom CBS All Access ITV Sundance Now CNN book Apple Creative Arts Emmys spanish language Western Comic Book video 71st Emmy Awards Calendar toy story Showtime Writers Guild of America Polls and Games transformers TLC Emmy Nominations revenge Best and Worst series DC Universe Rock Pixar Elton John Awards Tour festivals Ghostbusters Epix Rocky 2018 YouTube Red Winners singing competition binge Awards 2019 Schedule ABC composers Sony Pictures Nominations Starz The Witch Fantasy Universal mockumentary Holidays WarnerMedia The Purge travel Apple TV+ First Reviews See It Skip It DC Comics Winter TV Warner Bros. TIFF Logo The CW Opinion IFC OWN Tomatazos Amazon Prime Video south america Mary Tyler Moore Box Office APB ratings Crunchyroll award winner Drama Watching Series diversity supernatural science fiction Mindy Kaling medical drama Musical Mary Poppins Returns Britbox Character Guide romantic comedy Heroines Marathons cinemax SDCC vampires Martial Arts TV Land HBO Max Fox News SXSW streaming DirecTV Disney streaming service AMC canceled TV shows 007 elevated horror biography Marvel blaxploitation Trailer ESPN TBS historical drama Song of Ice and Fire renewed TV shows Television Academy Christmas Certified Fresh Captain marvel San Diego Comic-Con LGBT 2015 LGBTQ Trivia witnail Lucasfilm Fall TV jamie lee curtis joker MSNBC Star Wars Turner Teen 2016 children's TV MCU Valentine's Day dc true crime FOX Sundance Red Carpet zombies hist Action Spike aliens Women's History Month hispanic NYCC cancelled Quiz Superheroe quibi romance period drama strong female leads Comics on TV YouTube Premium mutant Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Vudu National Geographic Pop talk show thriller Pet Sematary Rocketman anthology disaster finale spider-man Chernobyl Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Superheroes Amazon Prime Film Horror DC streaming service kids Music Nickelodeon spinoff Thanksgiving TruTV Tarantino Esquire adventure Super Bowl cats HBO psycho 2017 FXX Lionsgate sports dramedy Dark Horse Comics Disney Plus Black Mirror BET Trophy Talk Bravo unscripted Netflix crossover robots politics Arrowverse spain Mary poppins Paramount CW Seed Biopics Cosplay Comedy Central 21st Century Fox E! Turner Classic Movies sequel Extras Election Comedy The Arrangement batman Animation space TCA 24 frames animated RT21 game show Reality Cannes cancelled television spy thriller comiccon TNT Binge Guide miniseries Disney Channel Spring TV Nat Geo Shondaland cancelled TV series Podcast Anna Paquin New York Comic Con psychological thriller Year in Review game of thrones PaleyFest BBC America GLAAD TV Shudder zero dark thirty Premiere Dates Mystery latino Emmys Crackle serial killer Columbia Pictures Reality Competition PBS Country TCA 2017 Ellie Kemper Rom-Com El Rey 45 golden globes Walt Disney Pictures VICE what to watch Film Festival SundanceTV DGA discovery adaptation cars police drama Sneak Peek social media breaking bad Amazon American Society of Cinematographers Set visit WGN