The Best Shows of the Lustrum: Introduction

[Blogged by Jeremy Grayson]

[The Best Shows of the What?]

Come near the end of every year, the crop of Internet denizens who comprise the serious television community take to their typewriters and make their case for what they believe are the television shows that best made the last 365 Earth-cycles worth sitting through. They label these lists with titles like “Best Shows of the Year” (an objective-sounding designation, despite the fact that it’s very rare to find any two lists that are alike), and post them on their respective websites/blogs/forums/YouTube channels. Said lists are promptly shredded to pieces by other Internet denizens, who complain about the omission of Show X and the inclusion of Show Y. This in turn leads to foul name-ascribing, intelligence-questioning, and all the other things that make the Internet the charmingly lovable place it is. Then another 365 Earth-cycles pass, and they do it all over again.

When the Blog was introduced to Critically Touched at the start of this year, Mike suggested that a possible topic for an article would be “TV’s Best Shows in 2014”. And for a brief time, I bandied with the idea of writing such an article myself. Unfortunately, given that every other television fan and their grandmother are making “Best Shows of 2014” lists around this time, I just couldn’t work up enough enthusiasm to get beyond the idea that my opinion would be lost in a sea of like-mindedness. (To a critical writer, that’s the scariest thought imaginable.)

So I sat down and placed my chin on the back of my hand to give the impression that I was thinking about this. And eventually, my attempt at thought bore fruit. I thought about “Best of the Year” lists, and “Best of the Decade” lists (which, as you may recollect, were insanely popular in 2009), and then I happened to look at the calendar and notice we were almost halfway through the decade that made up the Twenty-Tens.

And then that creepy little voice that lives inside my head said, “Jeremy, how about we do a ‘Best Shows of the Lustrum’ list?”

“A ‘Best Shows of the Lustrum’ list?” I replied. “That’s brilliant! Only… what’s a lustrum?”

For those as uninitiated as I was when I first came up with this idea, a lustrum was what the ancient Romans termed to be “a period of five years”. This is a convenient term, because it breaks down longer time periods, gives me an attention-grabbing and important-sounding title, and saves me from having to call this list something cumbersome or forced like “Best Shows of the Half-Decade” or “Best Shows of the Last Five Years” or “Why I’m Awesome, Part VIII”.

As you’ve probably guessed by now, this is a long way of saying that I’m about to write a list of what I feel are the best shows of the first half of this century’s Teens – or, as will be referred to from here on out, the lustrum. Specifically, I will talk about the shows which aired from 2010 to 2014 – a total of 1,826 Sun-cycles – and made those years their most bearable. While I certainly expect there to be some disagreement with some of my choices, I feel confident that the nature of my list will at least keep me from being drowned out by my fellow denizens. (That is, until The AV Club rips me off. Sigh…)

Over the next three weeks, I will reveal my choices, fives picks at a time, beginning with Numbers 15 through 11 next Sunday, continuing with 10 through 6, and ending with the all-powerful Top Five. Those who frequent the forums can probably guess some or most of my choices – and possibly even my #1 choice – but I hope there will be at least a few surprises.

Oh, and… yes, I’m aware that last week I mentioned on my “Top 25 West Wing Episodes” article that I’m not a big fan of lists. And yet here I am making a list. But the thing is, I’ll be writing several paragraphs about each of my picks, so that this whole thing will look less like a list and more like a series of small articles. That makes it okay. Trust me.

As with “Best of the Year” lists, I’ve culled together a set of rules for my picks for this project. Some may be obvious, but I feel they all should be stated anyway, to keep things clear and refined. As follows:


[The Rules]

1. I’ve only included shows I’ve watched. This is pretty much a no-brainer, but I’m tossing it off anyway, mostly because many readers don’t know which shows I have or haven’t watched, or what the extent of my television viewing is. I do watch a lot of TV, but I’d be lying if I said I watched half the critically beloved shows that have aired in the last five years. For example, I have never seen Game of Thrones, Justified, or Orange Is the New Black. Thus, I formally apologize to all the fans of that show who will be reading this list (of whom I know many). As a sign of good faith, however, I have used a Game of Thrones screencap for the banner pic of this introductory post. No need to thank me. But do it anyway.

2. I’ve only included shows I like. This one may also seem obvious, but I’d like to point out the difference here between “Favorite Shows” and “Best Shows”. This list, as you’ll see, is a mixture of both objective quality and personal preferences, but in the end, I chose to leave out any shows that didn’t personally resonate with me. I understand that shows like Homeland and Modern Family have many ardent fans, but I’m just not among them.

3. Shows will be judged based on their offerings in the current lustrum. Specifically, this means shows will be judged by the quality they exhibited between 2010 and 2014, and not before. For example, you may notice that How I Met Your Mother is not on my list. Now, I love the 2005-2009 seasons of How I Met Your Mother, and it would have certainly earned a spot on my list of the previous lustrum’s best shows, had I made one. But I was not nearly impressed with the show’s 2010-2014 seasons. Thus, it is not on the list.

4. Shows cannot be brand-spanking-new. This one’s a bit controversial, but I’ve decided to place a debut limit on the shows here. All the shows on my list premiered before 2014, mainly because I want to see if initially good shows can establish and maintain a firm ground over time. Usually, they can, but my instincts are always on the suspicious side.

Well, that about does it for preliminaries. Tune in next week for the first installment in my three-part saga of chronicling the 15 Best Shows of the Lustrum!

********

Jeremy Grayson is a freelance writer and reviewer for Critically Touched. He’s also standing right behind you. Ha! Made you look.


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39 thoughts on “The Best Shows of the Lustrum: Introduction”

  1. [Note: Kyle posted this comment on November 2, 2014.]

    Jeremy, you may very well be the funniest writer on this site. 🙂 (Sorry Mike and the other writers 😉 )

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  2. [Note: Boscalyn posted this comment on November 2, 2014.]

    Another correction; in the author credit at the end you say you are standing right behind me. This is false. I am standing behind you.

    😉

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  3. [Note: Zach posted this comment on November 2, 2014.]

    Breaking Bad is going to be #1…right? In the last 5 years I can’t think of anything better really…Surprise me! I won’t look up what shows came out in the past 5 years, i’m pretty forgetful on times so I am probably forgetting shows that are awesome…Obviously GoT will be on this list though xD.

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  4. [Note: Iguana-on-a-stick posted this comment on November 3, 2014.]

    A lustrum, to me, is that annoyingly pretentious holiday my high-school used to celebrate every five years to draw attention to the fact that they were an Important School with History. (And Latin classes.) And therefore they’d hold a bake-sale.

    That said, I do believe it’s a useful time-frame to examine when it comes to television, based on my gut feeling that the last five years have seen a lot of quality shows popping up. Plus there’s the whole thing happening with outlets like Netflix producing and distributing their own internet-based stuff. Brave new world and all that.

    So, what else. Hmm… can’t think of anything, since you didn’t yet write much of anything. I’ll just say this: Orphan Black had better be on that list.

    Finally, ever since watching Deadwood I always sit with my back to a windowless wall. Nice try, Grayson.

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  5. [Note: Other Scott posted this comment on November 3, 2014.]

    Wait, you’re a freelance writer now? When did this happen?

    Also, not having seen Orange is the New Black is going to make this entire list irrelevant. Sorry.

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  6. [Note: Iguana-on-a-stick posted this comment on November 3, 2014.]

    Wait, he hasn’t seen that?

    Yeah, take it from us, Jeremy. Just put that show somewhere in the top 3 and you won’t be wrong even if you’re clueless.

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  7. [Note: Jeremy G. posted this comment on November 3, 2014.]

    Iguana: Phew. I’m glad someone else here is able to confirm that I didn’t just make the word “lustrum” up.

    Scott: This article is technically a form of freelance writing, isn’t it?

    Regarding Orange is the New Black: I’m going to be writing several paragraphs about each of my choices in order to justify them, and to do that, I need to have seen all (or at least nearly all) episodes of the shows I pick in order to rationalize it. So I can’t very well put OitNB on the list. However, if it makes you guys feel better, I can adjust the rules so that all eligible shows must have their premieres before the second half of 2013. That way, Orange would be excluded for a different reason.

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  8. [Note: Freudian Vampire posted this comment on November 7, 2014.]

    Again, I think you’re taking the superficial view. Do the writers need to show us every single thing that has ever happened to Lester in order to make his actions believable? No. They give us some pieces and trust us to fill in the rest of the picture. We see a few isolated events (his bullying by Sam Hess, the awful treatment he gets from his wife) and it’s enough to paint the portrait of a man who has no passion in his life, who has never been respected, who has never achieved. Lester’s crime is one of passion. He has such pent-up rage and bitterness against the world and it’s just unfortunate that a hammer happened to be there when it was all let out. Malvo’s words were not what precipitated Lester’s actions even in the slightest. That was everything that had happened to him in his whole life.

    To be brutally honest, Zach, I think you need to watch the show again because none of what I’m saying was difficult to recognize or understand and I’d be honestly very surprised if you could go into the pilot again knowing what was going to occur and you would not see how all the signs pointed towards an explosion of violence from Lester at the end. Beyond that, I think you should give the show more than a single episode because the actions we see from Lester further down the line only reinforce this view that he’s somebody who has been beaten down, broken and humiliated by the system and the freedom to ignore it, the same freedom that makes Malvo’s way so enticing, gives rise to his true character.

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  9. [Note: Freudian Vampire posted this comment on November 3, 2014.]

    15 shows? That’s quite a many to be filled by somebody who has yet to see or Orange is the New Black, Game of Thrones or Justified and especially when the rules exclude the likes of Fargo and True Detective.

    I’m going to predict high placement for Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Orphan Black, Hannibal, Arrow and The Legend of Korra, but I genuinely have no idea what might occupy the rest of the spots. I seem to recall you saying that you disliked Rectify.

    I’ll eat my hat if Breaking Bad is anything other than number one, though. What else could it be?

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  10. [Note: Freudian Vampire posted this comment on November 3, 2014.]

    Really? I know you’d put Mad Men above, but Orange is the New Black is still too short to properly contest Breaking Bad and I’m struggling to think of anything else at the god-tier quality.

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  11. [Note: Other Scott posted this comment on November 3, 2014.]

    Breaking Bad only had one more season than Orange Is the New Black this decade.

    And I’m reconsidering. It may have been a bridge too far to call it better. But it’s close.

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  12. [Note: Freudian Vampire posted this comment on November 3, 2014.]

    I think Orange is the New Black is a great show, but it hasn’t yet made the leap to an all-time great show for me. Hopefully that might happen next season.

    It’s my number two for this list, though.

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  13. [Note: Other Scott posted this comment on November 3, 2014.]

    I think it made that leap by following up a great season with an equally great season. The list of shows that put together 2 great seasons and then peter out is not very long.

    Let’s put it this way:

    *SPOILER FOR SCOTT’S YEAR END TOP 10 LIST THAT NO ONE ELSE CARES ABOUT*
    It’s my number 1 show of 2014.

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  14. [Note: Freudian Vampire posted this comment on November 3, 2014.]

    To be honest, I think this year has been pretty dismal. I’ve heard that Mad Men S7, Hannibal S2, Rectify S2 and The Americans S2 were all great, but I’ve seen none of them. That leaves us with the disappointment that is the fourth season of Game of Thrones, the even greater disappointment that is the second season of Orphan Black and the even more disappointing third season of Sherlock to round out my list.

    So it’s Orange is the New Black at no.1 and Fargo at no.2 for me with nothing else that comes close.

    With that said, I feel you need, at bare minimum, three seasons of utter brilliance to be considered a contender for Breaking Bad‘s supremacy. I do think OitNB might be able to achieve that in the future, but it’s still uncertain at the moment.

    The list of shows that put together 2 great seasons and then peter out is not very long.

    *cough* Dexter *cough* Homeland *cough* Sherlock *cough*

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  15. [Note: Other Scott posted this comment on November 3, 2014.]

    Ok, Dexter is probably the example. I haven’t watched Dexter, though, so I don’t know whether I would be able to classify Seasons 1 and 2 as great or just very good.

    Homeland Season 1 is great and probably my favourite opening season of any show ever. Homeland Season 2 was still very good, but it wasn’t in the realm of what I’d call great and you can see where the wheels were going to fall off. I will still watch Season 3 at some point, but I’m not optimistic.

    Sherlock was never a great show. It was a pretty good show occasionally, but it’s not really anywhere near the quality of these other shows.

    I think the problem is less that the year has been dismal and more that you’ve missed all the things that are pretty good.

    Since I’ve posted a spoiler, I’ll post a teaser: You will get to see where I stand on the great 2014 battle of True Detective vs. Fargo!

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  16. [Note: Freudian Vampire posted this comment on November 3, 2014.]

    I’d classify Dexter‘s first two seasons as great. They’re less complex and meaningful than, say, Mad Men, but sheer quirkiness and creativity put them in the top tier for me. I’ll go with you on Homeland since I’ve never seen that show, but I would classify Sherlock‘s early goings as great even if it’s not quite perfect. firefly quality, I’d say.

    And Fargo is better than True Detective. I will not entertain any discussion on this matter. 😉 I even think Fargo might be better than Buffy.

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  17. [Note: Zach posted this comment on November 3, 2014.]

    I think Fargo is terrible…

    The writing is disastrous, entirely contrived in order to support higher levels of tensity…Most of it is simply too far past the realm of believability, from even seeing the first episode of True Detective, I already think it’s a better show.

    That being said, I watched Orange is the New Black as well (or the first season), and I must be in the minority on this one too, I thought it was a rather lackluster show, the character plots were uninteresting, and the main premise of the relationship between Piper and Alex doesn’t grip me or interest me in the slightest…But, that being said, I can see how some would like it.

    Breaking Bad is far beyond any other show, followed by Game of Thrones.

    Others that would probably make my list would be: Orphan Black, Lost, True Detective (probably), The Walking Dead, The Office…

    Ya I am tapped.

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  18. [Note: Freudian Vampire posted this comment on November 3, 2014.]

    Fargo is not meant to be realistic. It is no more fair to criticize it on those grounds than it is to judge Finding Nemo a terrible film for its inaccurate representation of aquatic ecosystems. It functions as a parable or fairy tale more than anything else. The tone veers from unbelievably dark to hilariously irreverent at the drop of a hat making for an engaging and tense viewing experience, and the characters are all expertly drawn and performed. The show’s setting and cinematography really bring the locations to life and give it vibrancy.

    Game of Thrones would be high on my list but for season four. As it is, it’s still a good show but one I have too significant issues with to put it in the top two. Orange is the New Black is far more deserving of that position.

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  19. [Note: Kyle posted this comment on November 3, 2014.]

    Uuuummm… I enjoyed Fargo, but I think its quality kind of fell after “Buridan’s Ass”. I think it kind of lost its footing and coherency after that episode. It felt like “Buridan’s Ass” was the true climax of the season, a climax, in my opinion, that was far too premature, leaving the episodes following it in a state of disorder. Also, the ending was a tad dull. In my mind, it failed to capture the true quirkiness of the show and was a bit too straightforward for my tastes. This is something I usually wouldn’t have a problem with, but in a show that was driven by brilliant twists (at least in the first half of the season), it failed to deliver something equally as impressive and clever.

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  20. [Note: Alex C. posted this comment on November 3, 2014.]

    So, the creepy little voice inside Jeremy’s head has a classical history bent. The creepy voices that speak to me in my head are telling me to file this information, for later use. *evil laugh*

    For now though, a ranking list of the best shows of the last five years sounds pretty fun. I don’t have any firm convictions about what the bottom twelve should look like, but I do know as a matter of personal certainty that the top three should be:

    1) Mad Men
    2) Breaking Bad
    3) Game of Thrones

    In that order.

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  21. [Note: Zach posted this comment on November 4, 2014.]

    It’s not meant to be realistic no, but I still feel that tensity derived from contrived writing…A show doesn’t need to be realistic to be more organic, in a way, the way they set up their show is cheating in my mind, using completely contrived circumstances than dismissing it as it is the “style” of the show…

    The real root of my dislike for this style, is that I feel a 3rd grader could write it and come up with something equally exciting if he/she is able to bend the rules of believability so much. (obviously I am exaggerating, but you get my point)

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  22. [Note: Freudian Vampire posted this comment on November 4, 2014.]

    I’m curious where you feel the contrivances are. You have to accept that it’s very much a fairy tale narrative, but I think you’re greatly exaggerating how manipulative the narrative is. Many of the characters behave unrealistically and the events have a very darkly comic tint to them, but there’s a fairly logical progression of events at work.

    I’d also very much disagree with the assertion that the show was built on twists, Kyle; I’d say it’s far more atmosphere driven than anything else. “Buridan’s Ass” was definitely a climax and in terms of pure thrills the best episode of the show, but it would have fallen flat as a finale because ultimately Fargo has far more on its mind than simply violence.

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  23. [Note: Zach posted this comment on November 4, 2014.]

    Lets just look at the first episode, in the final scene we see (SPOILER)

    Lester kill his wife with a hammer (I admit that scene did make me chuckle due to being an insane scene xD), he than calls Lorne and they kill a couple cops (or is it just one? I don’t remember)…Anyways, while that scene was pretty tense, and unrealistic (which is fine), the events leading up to it are unnecessarily contrived however, imo. They achieved this climax due to a completely unnatural progression. Lorne comes into town and makes a couple comments too him which plant the seed for a weak, harmless, friendly man to kill his wife…I don’t think I have to explain how that is entirely ridiculous (and even if it’s supposed to be, it doesn’t make up for the fact that it doesn’t feel as rewarding, the climax, due to the inorganic nature of the plot). Not only that, but of course Lorne, the sociopath, wants to help Lester. Another issue is that Lorne’s manipulations, while interesting, are even more unrealistic. I feel like the writers could have at least attempted to make it seem more natural or logical…Like the guy shoveling snow “Guy insulted me once, so i pissed in his gas tank” ; walks away, and of course that’s exactly what he does…As if every human being is immediately responsive to a random suggestion…The fact that he looks smug as he walks away is a testament to the fact that the writers want the viewer to know what he did worked, before the action took place, and this is, imo, a completely contrived act for the sake of making Lorne look awesome. Don’t get me wrong, shows like Breaking Bad do this on occasion too, but they usually at least have some logical lead up. Take for instance Ken’s car in Breaking Bad, which Walt blew up…Obviously Walt was just diagnosed with cancer, so he started acting not himself, and you could see he had little care for the world’s rules (obviously xD), Ken was a man behind many scenes in that episode, he bothered Walt during the entire thing, so in the end he finally cracked and blew up his car…While obviously an unrealistic reaction, it’s at least seated in a logical progression, and at least somewhat possible. Whereas it just doesn’t really make any sense in Fargo, he suggests an idea, knows it worked, and than goes into his apartment and watches and of course sets him up…It is obviously FAR more likely for him to just not do anything, but of course that wouldn’t make Lorne look cool or progress the story.

    Also it’s kind of odd seeing martin freeman again, since he seems to be in everything xD, I know him too well as Watson.

    Basically I don’t mind something being inherently unrealistic, but even unrealistic shows try to adhere to organic storytelling and progression.

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  24. [Note: Freudian Vampire posted this comment on November 4, 2014.]

    I don’t find any of what you describe contrived at all.

    [SPOILERS]

    Lester is a beaten down man. In some ways he resembles the humiliated Walter White we saw at the beginning of his show, but he lacks the intelligence, pride and devotion to family to make him sympathetic. He’s got nothing. You say that Malvo’s comments are what peesuades him to murder his wife, but there’s far more than that; consider also the suffering and loss of dignity visited upon him by Sam Hess, or how stupid he feels for breaking his brother’s gun. Think of it as though he has always had the darkness in him, that capacity for unspeakable evil, and it’s built up and bottled up and it finally explodes with that blow of the hammer. This is to my understanding quite an accurate depiction of how sudden, supposedly unprecedented acts of violence can occur from normal people.

    As for why Malvo ‘helps’ Lester (in only the very loosest definition), it’s an established, indeed defining, character trait of his that he does not have any real purpose or scheme but rather causes havoc and mayhem seemingly at random. This is a pattern which will be repeated and explored in greater depth as the show progresses.

    I find it curious you would cite the incident with the shoveller and the gas tank as a criticism of Malvo’s manipulations, firstly because it’s only a very minor scene with no bearing whatsoever on the plot but also because isn’t it perfectly in-character for a dissatisfied and immature young man to take an idea for payback (one that’s risk-free as well) when it’s offered to him? Malvo barely bothers to disguise his intentions and it seems fairly believable that the guy would consider them safe enough to be worth doing. Besides, does it matter? It’s just a fun little cameo. If the show tried to engineer it’s major dramatic punches based on stretches and implausible actions it might be cause for a complaint, but it’s just an entertaining throwaway to further establish Malvo’s modus operandi. I find it not objectionable in the slightest.

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  25. [Note: Zach posted this comment on November 5, 2014.]

    Yea I can’t buy into that really, while it would explain his sudden despicable deeds, but I think it’s giving the writers too much credit. You can hypothesize about why he snapped, but it’s really all conjecture since we really know nothing about Lester, or his hypothetical build up. Too me, it was obviously tensity for tensity’s sake, and I don’t really appreciate that.

    And the gas thing was just an example, I don’t mean to say that was dragging the show down by itself, but basically every scene involving Malvo was entirely contrived imo, and that was just one explanation on how basically every scene with him is. On top of this, the pacing of the show is supercharged (at least from what I have seen), we see this whole disaster unfold of him killing multiple people in his home in the span of a one hour tv show, too me it all felt way too unnatural to even consider it to be a great show.

    One scene I did like in the first episode was one of the last scenes with him being pulled over by the cop, I thought, even though his kid on the walkie-talkie was kind of unrealistic, I had mostly no issue with it, because his intimidation, of the cop felt genuine to me, and in that circumstance, I find it entirely plausible/likely for that to occur.

    That being said, other than a couple of good scenes, I found it to have downright bad writing imo that made me cringe at times. And although I can understand it certainly has entertainment value, it just lacks too much in other more intelligent factors that leave me with a sour taste. Again, this is coming from someone who is perfectly fine with ’empty’ shows (ones that leave out factors like Depth, etc) like Chuck, The Walking Dead, or Teen Wolf. But that’s basically because they don’t have the pretensions of being an intelligent show, they have self-awareness of what they are presenting. Fargo on the other hand, I feel is not really aware that it’s unrealistically contrived.

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  26. [Note: Boscalyn posted this comment on November 5, 2014.]

    Going back to bets, I recall Jeremy really liking Bunheads and Bob’s Burgers. Maybe they’ll make a surprise appearance?

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  27. [Note: Jeremy G. posted this comment on November 5, 2014.]

    Actually, I haven’t seen Bunheads. It is on my watchlist, however. (On the forums, Scott mentioned liking it, which is when I brought up the fact that I needed to see it.)

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  28. [Note: Freudian Vampire posted this comment on November 6, 2014.]

    [FARGO SPOILERS CONTINUE]

    With all due respect, I think you’re taking an extremely shallow and superficial view of the show. My assessment of Lester was not in any way “conjecture”; it was based on events which happened in the pilot, his dialogue, the way other characters treat him, the way Freeman holds himself in the scenes and finally the way we see him behave in the scene where he hits his wife with that hammer. Did you need some exposition to tell you Lester’s backstory or some monologue or dream sequence to explain his motivations? No. It’s perfectly clear if you watch more than five minutes who Lester is and what he’s supposed to represent. To try to justify this in more explicit terms would have robbed the show of its genius and killed it before it came out the door.

    Your complaint of it being “supercharged” is also rather silly. Lester only kills a single person in the pilot, and it’s done in a moment of frustration and rage. The other two fatalities, Sam Hess and the police chief, are both done by Malvo. The first of those two is enacted purely because Malvo, devilish drifter that he is, wants to kill somebody and will accept any excuse he’s given; I will also argue he does so because he is curious what the pressure and guilt might make Lester do. The second is done because Lester, quite reasonably, remembers Malvo and calls him to help. Neither of these events are even remotely contrived; there’s an internal logic at play that drives the events and I don’t find it unbelievable in the slightest. Breaking Bad‘s pilot essentially ended in a double homicide and we were never given much in the way of backstory or monologues for Walter White, yet for some reason you consider his far more cold and calculating actions more plausible than Lester’s single crime of passion. I’m sorry to say I have no idea where you’re getting any of your impressions from.

    There’s definitely depth in Fargo. You may not have picked it up but it’s present and right from the beginning. Lester, for example, is quite an intelligent critique of masculinity, far more so than even Walter White because, great though Breaking Bad was, it always oscillated between condemning Walt’s actions and reveling in them. There’s the spiritual and religious side, explored through Malvo (theoretically an incarnation of Satan) and another character introduced in a few episodes time. There’s a statement about the moral decay within even the most outwardly decent societies, and there’s some brilliant exploration of the underlying misogyny that drives Malvo which is essentially what allows Molly a fighting chance at beating him. This is all stuff I found really easy to pick up, and there’s far more than that I could mention and far more I couldn’t because I wasn’t clever enough for it. I really recommend you read some intelligent reviews of the show because they do a good job of explaining what’s great about it.

    PS: Check your private messages.

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  29. [Note: Other Scott posted this comment on November 6, 2014.]

    To get this far into a discussion on Fargo and only briefly and incidentally being up once the greatness that is the character of Molly Solverson is a crime.

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  30. [Note: Freudian Vampire posted this comment on November 6, 2014.]

    Molly Solverson is kind of irrelevant in a discussion of whether Fargo is contrived or not, given that all Zach’s complaints about the supposed inorganic storytelling seem to focus on Lester and Malvo. Rest assured that if this were a simple discussion of Fargo‘s quality I’d cite her as one of the main reasons why I believe this show is great.

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  31. [Note: Zach posted this comment on November 6, 2014.]

    I agree with the supercharged comment, I have only seen two episodes, and it was more than a month ago, so I may be incorrect on some things.

    But I still think that the build up was completely contrived, and is WAY different than Breaking Bad…I don’t think that there needs to be a build-up or backstory for everything, but in order for what Lester did to his wife to succeed, it needed to be there…

    In Breaking Bad, Walt was defending himself because he thought he was in danger, in the pilot episode he wasn’t quite an evil scumbag yet, which is evident in one of the later S1 episodes with the guy in his basement. There was no backstory needed (even though there kind of was buildup).

    Lester’s action was completely ridiculous on the other hand, as if the viewer is supposed to believe that a guy who spoke a few lines to him and memories of his old bully finally ‘pushed him’ over the edge to kill his wife. I just can’t buy that chain of events. Even with the explanation that it’s been bubbling inside him for his entire life, it just feels cheap. The truth is, it was all done for the sake of the plot, to progress/examine Malvo and how dangerous he was. Not to mention that basement argument also felt forced. Imho, the whole thing reeks of bad writing.

    I don’t think ‘every’ event is contrived though, the ones you explain in your post I didn’t feel were particularly contrived. I buy Malvo enough, even though his abilities are obviously exaggerated beyond reality, he is certainly more believable.

    As far as depth goes, If there was any to be found, I didn’t really notice it, although I’ll take your word for it that it does exist xD.

    “yet for some reason you consider his far more cold and calculating actions more plausible than Lester’s single crime of passion”

    It has nothing to do with how ‘cold’ it is really, just as there is explanation to explain said coldness. On Walt’s part, there is, self-defense…I don’t think he was even close to the amount of horrible that Lester was (in the first episode I mean).

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  32. [Note: Zach posted this comment on November 8, 2014.]

    You may be right, I’ll rewatch and give it another shot, perhaps I was feeling a little cynical going into it, after I rewatch the first episode I will try to reply with fresh thoughts on the episode, and perhaps it will change my view point.

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  33. [Note: Other Scott posted this comment on November 8, 2014.]

    I don’t think you really need to rewatch the episode as much as to keep watching. The stuff that seems weird in the first episode becomes more of a piece over time as you get a better grip with what the show is doing with tone and character work.

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  34. [Note: Freudian Vampire posted this comment on November 8, 2014.]

    I say from experience it’s better to watch Fargo at a steady pace rather than see the pilot (or in my case the first four episodes) and then take a large break before returning.

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  35. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on May 23, 2015.]

    Creepy little voice? I wonder how it sounds like. 🙂

    So,[finally], I´m gonna read these articles. I know I´m very late to the party but work has been non-stop and hey, better late than never.

    Can´t wait to read it!

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