Binge Guide

Weekly Binge: Fargo

by | October 15, 2014 | Comments

With a storm of A-list talent, complex storytelling, gallows humor, jarring violence, and blizzard-worthy amounts of snow, Fargo is a perfect little binge for a cold day.

Isn’t it time you watched season one of Fargo? You betcha!



What’s the premise? Murder hits the small town of Bemidji, MN after an insurance salesman (Martin Freeman) encounters a violent drifter (Billy Bob Thornton).

What’s it like? With stylistic storytelling and dark humor akin to the eponymous 1996 Coen Brothers film, Fargo is not a remake, but a complement to the Coen-verse where grim violence and quirky politeness can cohabit within the same small town — and oftentimes, within the same person. Directed by Noah Hawley, TV’s Fargo captures much of the Coen Brothers’ point of view, combining laughs with brutality and quiet sadness with epic character flaws. Imagine if Ned Flanders were the hero in No Country for Old Men and you’ll start to get the picture.

Where can I see it? The complete first season just came out on DVD and Blu-ray this week. Otherwise, you can pay to stream all of season one on Amazon Instant Video, Google Play, iTunes, and Vudu.

How long will it take? Each of Fargo‘s 10 episodes runs about an hour, so you’re looking at a weekend-long binge. For Pete’s sake, just do it already!

What do the critics think? Certified Fresh on the Tomatometer at 98 percent, Fargo is considered by critics to be one of the best darn shows of the year. David Zurawik of the Baltimore Sun wrote that “it’s easy to lose yourself as I did in this world of endless snow, hopelessly flat lands, coffee shops, down jackets, small town facades, brutality, blood, drugs and slaughter.” HitFix critic Alan Sepinwall raved, “The TV Fargo establishes itself as its own wonderful thing that is connected to the movie without being a recreation of it, and that doesn’t seem unworthy of the name.” And Alessandra Stanley of The New York Times said, “Like the movie, the series is peculiar, with an irregular rhythm and lots of black humor, and it is also oddly winning.”

Why should I watch this? Before season two was announced, the concept for Fargo was a TV miniseries with a complete narrative, serialized over 10 episodes. Due to its limited-run nature, Hawley’s Fargo was able to nab A-listers Billy Bob Thornton (Sling Blade, Bad Santa) and Martin Freemam (The Hobbit, Sherlock), who might not otherwise be able to commit to a TV show. The result is a series as cinematic in casting as it is in mise-en-scene and storytelling. The supporting cast — with Allison Tolman as the determined young detective, Bob Odenkirk as the cynical deputy thrust into power, Keith Carradine as the wise, retired police chief, and Colin Hanks as the hilarious-yet-witless Office Gus Grimley — add moral complexity to this antihero tale. Plus, casting Key & Peele’s Keegan Michael Key and Jordan Peele as two inept FBI agents and Oliver Platt as the “Supermarket King of Minnesota” makes for some funny, surprising character work.

What’s my next step? In addition to the Coen Brothers filmography, starting with Fargo, No Country for Old Men, and Burn After Reading, you should investigate other TV anthology series — especially HBO’s True Detective with Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson and FX’s American Horror Story with Jessica Lange, Kathy Bates, and Angela Bassett. If you’re a fan of Martin Freeman’s work as Lester Nygard, definitely check him out as Dr. Watson in Sherlock. Also, Billy Bob Thornton gives a stand-out criminal performance in Sam Raimi’s 1998 film A Simple Plan. For those who have enjoyed their time in the cold Minnesota weather, try Lilyhammer, a Netflix original in which Steven Van Zandt plays a mob boss relocated to a rural Norwegian town.

Will you be braving the elements of Fargo? Tell us why!

Tag Cloud

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