Making a home on the range sounds nice in theory, but where the deer and the antelope play has one major downside: It gets pretty rough and tumbleweedy out there on the American frontier. Thankfully, it also makes for a dramatic and a dynamic on-screen environment, which is probably why four new projects hitting screens this season take place on farms and ranches in that very same dusty American landscape.
The series Godless and Damnation and movies 1922 and Mudbound all feature actors playing in the dirt. (It must be fun to get paid for things your parents used to scold you for.) Each show or movie has something unique to say about America’s past, but there are a few common threads between them — in addition to all that dust. Read on for a guide featuring all the commonalities and differences between the four projects, all set in different time periods.
When It Takes Place: It’s right there in the title.
Where It’s Set: Nebraska
What Sets It Apart: This film is based on a Stephen King story. Wilfred James (Jane) kills his wife (Parker) to stop her from selling the farm, but, believe it or not, murder does not solve all of his problems. Turns out, things get worse for farmers before 1930. All the shows on this list have harrowing violence, usually gunplay or hanging, but 1922 has visions of decomposing corpses and gross rats crawling out of the woodwork, too.
The Similarities: The good old family farm — the plight of farmers and other manual laborers is a theme all four projects share. Since the main character is a killer, that gives Wilfred something in common with the lead characters Damnation and Godless.
Where To Watch: Now streaming on Netflix
On a Scale of 1-10, How Dusty Is It? Around an 8 — the James farm is pretty barren once the first harvest of the series is done. Jane is so sunburnt it makes every scene he’s in feel parched. And he’s in every scene.
When It Takes Place: 1930s
Where It’s Set: Iowa
What Sets It Apart: Seth Davenport (Scott) has a secret: He’s not really a priest. He’s just posing as one as he attempts to start an uprising in the American heartland while going up against professional strikebreaker Creeley Turner (Marshall-Green).
The Similarities: There’s gunplay in 1922, but more in Damnation and even more in Godless. Connie Nunn (Hamilton) is a detective basically assassinating union champions. Badass women also play a role in Godless.
Where to Watch: USA, premiering Nov. 7.
How Dusty Is It? This one is a 6 or 7 in terms of literal dustiness. There’s some grass, and the dust is mainly kicked up on the roads in and out of town.
When It Takes Place: 1940s
Where It’s Set: Mississippi
What Sets It Apart: Mudbound focuses on the racism of America’s past through the eyes of two farm-owning families in post-World War II South. The film, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, has the most recent setting, with World War II a major component of the story.
The Similarities: This film focuses on farming, too, but probably takes the most in-depth look at the hardships of running a farm. Henry (Clarke) toils the fields. Laura (Mulligan) is a strong woman, if not the hardcore gunslinging kind.
Where to watch: Netflix, premiering Nov. 17.
How Dusty Is It? About a 5, right in the middle. It’s called Mudbound for a reason. It rains a lot and that turns the dust into mud.
When It Takes Place: 1880s
Where It’s Set: New Mexico
What Sets It Apart: After the men of La Belle, New Mexico, die in a mining accident, women run the town. When outlaws Frank Griffin (Daniels) and Roy Goode (O’Connell) come gunning for each other, the women take up arm,s too. Godless boasts the highest quantity of badass women of all four projects. And since it’s on Netflix, Godless is a lot more graphic than Damnation. As for preachers, La Belle is waiting for a new one to show up. For now they’re — dun dun dun — godless! Episodes run 70-75 minutes long, making it the most epic of all the dusty projects, too.
The Similarities: Don’t tell the miners in Godless that they’ll still be facing the same old deadbeat bosses 50 years later in Damnation. The communities of Godless harbor fugitives like Damnation and outlaws face off, which really just makes these shows good, old-fashioned Westerns.
Where To Watch: Netflix, premiering Nov. 22.
How Dusty Is It? Very dusty: around a 9. La Belle is a desolate dust bucket, and if you mosey on over to the horse corral, it gets even dustier. The horses and carriages on the roads in and out of La Belle stir up a mighty dust storm too. Godless is the dustiest dust show of them all.