Almost 25 years have passed since the period that marked the launch of Fargo in theaters and that allowed everyone to get to know the Coen brothers’ cinema. Thanks to the peculiar use of black humor in an ambiguous, dense and nuanced context, the two directors managed to dedicate themselves to the gaze of the general public as great authors, earning a prominent place among the leading filmmakers of our time. Fargo, with its atmospheres and its multiple levels of interpretation, immediately made it clear to the audience that under that veil of references to the grotesque and situations bordering on bewilderment, something very different was hiding: a constant dialogue between themes and elements intertwined by the thin thread of violence, which allowed us to face the contrast between the real and the unexpected without frills and with a ruthless rawness.
These fundamental points, peppered with clear and recognizable stylistic elements, were the foundation of the FX network, when it ordered the creation of a television series inspired by the Coen feature film in 2014. From the skillful hands of Noah hawley so it came Fargo – The Series, a work that has upset television series reaching the highest peaks of the medium. The showrunner, who more than anyone else seems to have understood the spirit behind the creature of those who in the meantime have become two giants of cinema, has created an anthological series that does not intend to follow the Coen trait, but to exploit it to move. towards a new design. Although far from the facts of the movie, the series takes up its spirit in a more than faithful way, even evolving its language and elevating it in all its parts.
Over the course of three seasons – pending Fargo’s fourth season, now close to its arrival in Italy – FX’s production has acquired more and more allegorical charge and narrative depth: focusing the analysis on the complex relationship the show has with the work. reference and delving into the new developments that led to its success, it will be possible to see much more secret and disturbing interpretations of its surface.
A blow to the heart … of the narrative
From the first scenes, the entire narrative of the feature film and the series has been similar in its most direct and obvious aspect: a history of the real, the common and the banal, that suddenly goes crazy faced with an absurd fact, an unexpected turning point.
The whole merry-go-round of meanings revolves around the construction and search for the meaning of this event. Fargo: truth and reality are always present, even in the face of the unimaginableBut they lead the common man to distort his own nature in a possibly favorable situation. At that moment, where all confidence falters and all logic begins to change, the story of the common man becomes a criminal epic. And the series proposes this theme again, altering times, spaces and contexts
“Fargo is not a place, it is a state of mind. It is a true crime story where reality is stranger than fiction and the good guys have to face something horrible “. Hawley, as well as the Coens, highlights the importance of the concepts of truth and history at the base of your narrative. We do not look back, we seek new answers. Even without their parental minds, the world of Fargo works and moves freely between its lights and its horrors, showing the distinctive and recognizable elements of that cinematographic world without ever revealing itself as its real representation.
While playing with references and quotes, the only Red thread that unites the opera, the series and its various seasons is the history of crime in the American Midwest, with special emphasis on that “True Criminal History”. Behind these words lies precisely that conflict between good and evil, between truth and history (or story) that intertwine and entangle each other, fighting without hindrance.
In fact, each story manages to appear similar in atmosphere, but always different and evolved in what it communicates: if the first phenomenal season focuses on conceptual references to the film and on providing a solid foundation for the dialogue of later stories, concentrating the dominance of the scene in a few key characters, and the second one moves away adopting a choral tone. style and more “absurd” – net of the interesting temporal link with previous episodes.
A rudimentary form of evolutionary thesis based on antithetical elements, which with the third season becomes a synthesis: after two excellent seasons, the last episodes of the anthological series perfectly close the circle and allows us to fully understand the complex design of Hawley and associates.
Contrast: key to understanding
Excluding the analysis and spoilers of the plot, it will be easy to guess that the true engine of the narrative resides in the individuals who inhabit the stories and the world: the characters of Fargo, each with their own character, represent the only element directly observable by the viewer to receive what happens in the right way. These subjects live the contrast, they are part of it and at the same time are consumed by it: if on the one hand there are characters of strong moral value, with nothing to hide, on the other the anarchist forces are constantly moving under the track. , mysterious and inscrutable.
However, the most disturbing and fascinating detail lies exactly in limbo between the two sides. the element that takes the dialogue of the show to another level is represented by the subject reacting to the unexpected: the ordinary being who, faced with the randomness of fate, is forced to face the consequences of his choices and avoid everything else.
Following the course of their misadventures in their respective narrative arcs, three cycles are configured that are repeated in different ways: the “good guys” usually arrive at their own truths or a resolution of their conflict, but never to a true victory – just think of Molly in the first season, her father in the second or Gloria in the third.
The “mysterious” are configured as pure agents of chaos, with goals for themselves, without ever giving real answers to their work; the “protagonists”, making an extreme decision, cherish the idea of getting away with it but end up paying the bill for a fortune they don’t deserve – see Lester in season one, Peggy in season two or Emmit in season three.
Observing with special attention, the unexpected can be considered as a character above suspicion: moving through the darkness of the world, relying on its secrets and the most mysterious characters, this dark force often takes over in the twisted intrigues of the events narrated.
Of violence, truth and lies
In fact, faced with the absurdity of the violence that hits the characters and the viewer himself, it is inevitable to wonder where the sense of reality lies in events that seem crazy and senseless. Everything acquires increasingly macabre contours for the characters themselves, who find the affection of their loved ones as the only refuge from the chaos. But, as unthinkable as it may be, violence also has its logic: act on the basis of the truths that the characters tell, those that they tend to hide and those that they try to make credible in the eyes of others. As the characteristic poster of the first season of the series shows, it is the dialogue between the truths of each one that makes the intertwining of Fargo, bringing to light realities much more absurd than the lies that the characters try to make you believe.
However, as already mentioned, the violence maintains its link to reality despite the events turning incredible. On the one hand, it represents the only instrument of effective liberation of being; on the other, it is fragile when fate claims those who have used it. In the world of Fargo there’s an inescapable sense of justice that strikes coldly that it is not worthy of the peace and success obtained through certain means.
The above is linked to these concepts dialogue between truth and lies: already in the first season this is the engine that, as in the film, leads Lester to his actions, since he is strong in his own truth and with the intention of making it come true. In this, the second season deals with the subject in a much more direct way, staging a real “language problem”: the constant alternation between what is said and what is thought.
The third, on the other hand, aims to exploit it to make any natural element complex, highlighting how the context has been so changed by the stories that the truths, however easily detectable, are considered absurd.
In a world like that of Fargo, who trusts so much in beliefs and truths, anyone can be considered correct regardless, and for this reason the full understanding of the truth is always more complex than it should be. As the fish imply, who says you are the wrong one? Who says that you are not right and others are wrong?
The importance of the Order
If something always comes up, in every season of the series, it is the absence of control. Characters are incapable of being masters of themselves and, in fact, always encounter external and violent forces that alter the course of their actions. Hawley understood how important the illusion of control is to a character, and therefore also to the viewer: order is what human beings need the most and, if he is absent, it leads him more easily to get lost.
That’s why all the characters in Fargo they constantly try to reorganize and reorganize to restore compromised balances. It may seem that chance acts without criteria, that fate has no answers and that is where man trembles at his own uncertainties. Rather than wonder if it is possible to decipher the meaning of a world devoid of truth, the series surpasses itself when it shows that, beyond the questions and perplexities, reality remains based on the search for order.
Even in the face of absurdity, order leads man to move in reality and, therefore, to continue interacting with it, seeking its meaning. The idea of Hawley and his creature may seem wildly selfish, but just like in a fairy tale, it shows their cold morality: we need things to make sense and we want realitybut we are always too interested in stories to fully understand them.
Storytelling proves to be a very powerful tool, therefore, that, despite the absurdity of the case, leads the viewer to stay within the narrative, focused and hungry for meaning. In this, the police and law enforcement officers embody order in a world full of fragility, but also the viewer, with their questions, their truths and their wishes. Therefore, despite everything, there will always be a “policeman” in Fargo.