You have been warned thusly, and so begins my blant (blog+rant).
It’s taken me a week to process how I feel about episode one of Fargo (on FX, episode two is on tonight). Yes, I realize it’s not supposed to be a reboot of the movie.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed in how the showrunners decided to reach for low-hanging fruit by making deputy Molly Solverson (Allison Tolman) a fumbling, unsure officer basically annointed the heir-apparent by Police Chief Thurman (Shawn Doyle) before he’s killed in episode one by that crazy trickster of a hit man, Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thorton).
Oh, and Chief Thurman’s wife is like 12 months pregnant.
For a show that wasn’t going to replicate the movie, they’re sure doing their best to basically piss me off and ruin what is, in my mind, a classic movie.
I get it. They’re going for the old tried and true heroic journey of Molly having to run the gauntlets put up by gatekeepers to heed her now-dead mentor’s call.
What about having her start out as a capable woman police chief who has to deal with bullshit from the men she works with, as well as the public at large? How about having her dealing with the loss of someone she felt responsible for, instead of her dealing with the loss of a mentor? I think her relationship dynamic with her father, Lou (Keith Carradine) would be far more richer for it, having to deal with his fear as a father for his daughter’s safety, maybe a splash of pride mixed with resentment that she’s more successful than he is, etc.
Low. Hanging. Fruit.
Nope. She has to start out bumbling and unsure, setting out on her rocky Fool’s journey (if you prefer the Tarot metaphor).
Don’t get me wrong, the acting is great. Billy Bob Thorton’s character is hysterical, creepy, brilliant, and just plain wrong all at the same time. And I love Keith Carradine. The other actors were great. The writing (for the most part) was excellent.
Low. Hanging. Fruit.
The police chief of Tampa, a city with nearly 350k residents? A woman. (Since I live here, I can easily pull that one out of my ass.) I’m sure there are many others out there. It would have been nice to see the showrunners go with a bolder, more innovative choice instead of a trite cliche. (Oh, look, isn’t that adorable, Molly thinks she’s a REAL cop, let’s pat her on the head, have her dad try to talk her into being a hostess for his diner, and send her on her way.) I’m almost afraid to see where this will go.
Then again, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the writers are misleading us and will take this in a totally different and unpredictable direction. But if they don’t, if they have Molly basically fighting her way through good ole’ boy misogyny to get them to listen to her because she is the only one who knows the truth… Well, I probably won’t watch too many episodes, then.
One of the brilliances of the original movie was how, for once, a movie portrayed a mother-to-be ALSO as a very competent police chief. Frances McDormand was BRILLIANT in that role.
I’m going to be very disappointed if the TV show’s writers seek solace in a predictable plot and simply hang off the Coen brothers’ movie legacy coattails.
We’ll see what happens in tonight’s episode. I’m willing to give it a chance, but I won’t hesitate to bail if they disappoint me further.