(Contains spoilers for the second season of Fargo)
We’ve just finished watching this. It made the top of a lot of the critic’s best-of-year lists and I can see why. It is a triumph of style and technique.
But it is also a TV show that desperately wants to be about something, and much of the final episode is taken up by characters delivering very forced monologues that point to the themes of the season. What they’re saying isn’t always clear but, near as I can tell, the core message of Fargo is that white middle-class domesticity is the epitome of all that is good and decent; it must be protected by the law, violently if necessary, from evil: represented by a murderous Native American, a murderous capitalist black man and Peggy, a stifled house-wife whose dreams of independence and liberation are manifestations of her insanity. The Gerhardt family, meanwhile, are destroyed when they lose their patriarch and his wife is incapable of uniting or controlling her family.
The goodness and decency of ordinary people is the message of the original Coen Brother’s movie, so there’s some continuity there. But that movie didn’t have a bunch of evil ethnic characters or an insane hysterical feminist housewife and when you throw them into the mix it distorts the simple celebration of wholesome domesticity into something very reactionary and creepy. Also, there are UFOs in the show and I have no idea why.