Opinion: ‘Fargo’ television adaptation triumphs

By: Grant Vance ~Staff Writer~

Photo courtesy of nytimes.com | Ted Danson left, as sheriff, and Patrick Wilson, as his son-in-law, in “Fargo’s” season two premiere on Oct. 12.

Joel and Ethan Coen succeeded to a large degree with the release of their 1996 film, “Fargo.” This film is only one of many masterpieces provided by the accomplished fraternal filmmakers who have been nominated for many Oscars and successfully brought in two.

Though the film’s critical reception is an accomplishment in its own right, the true success of this film is found in its perfect, darkly comedic portrayal of the dull-minded pleasantries of the inhabitants of the titular tundra of Fargo, N.D.

The Coen Brothers’ “Fargo” works so well by providing a series of character studies critiquing the American dream in its overt exploration of the dark places living under surface-level politeness. Though Marge Gunderson is the film’s central protagonist, this is not a film about Marge’s expert police work, but rather a film about the potential for violent crime in a place that seems quite incapable of such evils.

Currently on the fourth episode of its second season, FX’s television series “Fargo” is using the themes from its inspiration in order to stand as one of the best series currently on the air. Aside from a great ensemble cast, smart direction and executive producing credits for Joel and Ethan Coen, “Fargo” the series finds its success in a narrative that expands on the mythos created in the film, rather than imitating it.

Much like the film, the series pits the average, corrupted “every man” in the midst of violent crime and outsider mercenaries galore.

As previously mentioned, this is no remake or sequel to the film, but rather an entirely separate story that exists in the same universe established by the film. The events of the movie are referenced in the series but never directly affect the central plot.

In telling such a compelling narrative using nothing more than a deep understanding of the Coen Brother’s film, “Fargo” the series is a triumphant example of how to properly make a television series adapted from a film.

“Fargo” never attempts to use hokey gimmicks in order to sell itself as a product of its namesake, but rather succeeds in its ability to use an atmosphere and tone established by it to tell a thoughtprovoking, visually impressive story.