Jon Hamm and Juno Temple Bring ‘Fargo’ Into the Trump Years, for Better and for Worse: TV Review
21.11.2023 - 16:53
Alison Herman TV Critic The typical season of “Fargo” starts at a simmer. Thanks to the famous opening disclaimer (“at the request of the survivors”; “out of respect for the dead”), borrowed wholesale from the Coen Brothers’ original masterpiece, the audience knows violence is in the offing. In translating “Fargo” into an anthology series, an interpretive exercise that now spans five different installments over nearly a decade, creator Noah Hawley has stuck to this structure.
“Fargo” may hopscotch across time, points of view, and the Greater Midwest, but Hawley uses a loose and shifting set of signatures to identify the multiplying parts of the franchise as part of a greater whole — the pace heretofore among them. The latest “Fargo” story, however, starts in media res. We’re in suburban Minnesota circa 2019, and a local school board meeting has descended into chaos.
This isn’t a record-scratch-freeze-frame situation, either; in the six episodes provided to critics in advance, Hawley doesn’t rewind to show us how a planning meeting for a fall festival broke out into a brawl where a mother and a math teacher, among many others, come to blows. The opening scene is meant to signify an already frayed social order on the verge of unraveling — that this “Fargo,” for once, is not a slow burn. There’s no waiting for the action to arrive; it’s already here.
For Season 4, released in 2020, Hawley reached further into the past than ever before to stage an ambitious, if flawed, take on race, immigration and the American national character. Season 5 reverses course to become the most contemporary “Fargo” entry to date, and thus the first to take place during the Trump administration. (The previous record holder, Season 3, was set in
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