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‘Fargo’ Review Roundup: Does TV Version Live Up To The Original?

Wed, April 16, 2014 3:08pm EDT by Elizabeth Wagmeister 1 Comment
Fargo Premiere
Courtesy of FX

‘Fargo’ premiered on FX on April 15, but did it make just as big of an impact as the Coen brothers’ hit did back in 1996? Read to see what the critics are saying!

FX is home to critically acclaimed series American Horror StoryThe Americans and Justified, and now, the much anticipated TV-adaptation of Fargo. The premiere drew in 4.15 million viewers, but did Billy Bob Thorton‘s performance rank as stellar as the original thriller? Click to find out, plus, tell us what you thought about Fargo‘s return!

‘Fargo’ On FX: Is The TV Version As Good As The Original?

Back in 1996, the Coen brothers introduced a film that would change the silver screen forever. Almost two decades later on April 15, Fargo has hit the small screen and it premiered to rave reviews all across the boards.

The FX crime drama follows a malicious drifter, Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thorton) who lands in a small town in Minnesota and brings his violence with him, influencing the town, including insurance salesman Lester Nygaard (Martin Freeman). The 10-episode limited series also stars Colin HanksOliver PlattBob Odenkirk and Kate Walsh.

Turns out, the TV version lives up to the original hit. Here’s what the critics have to say about Fargo.

Los Angeles Times:

Fargo blazes a dark new trail on TV. A stellar cast led by Billy Bob Thornton anchors an FX series that echoes the Coen brothers’ 1996 film yet shines in its own singularly sinister way.”

New York Times:

“Like the movie, the series is peculiar, with an irregular rhythm and lots of black humor, and it is also oddly winning … ‘Fargo’ isn’t the movie; it’s a television adaptation that lives up to the spirit of the original by straying.”


“Thornton, who starred for the Coens in The Man Who Wasn’t There, makes him instantly seductive, impish, and terrifying…There’s something otherworldly about him, like a fairytale spirit…sent to Earth to test humanity.”

NY Daily News:

“They said it couldn’t be done, but the creators of the TV version of Fargo have done it. Writer Noah Hawley and a superb cast of actors have fashioned a 10-episode TV drama that captures all the deadpan delight of the 1996 Coen Brothers movie. It’s got your insane violence and your black humor…They catch the spirit of the movie cast without replicating it.”

San Francisco Chronicle:

“You should overlook the shortcomings and enjoy the series on its own otherwise considerable merits, chief among them, of course, Billy Bob Thornton. He is riveting as Malvo, making such a powerful impression that you’re always looking for him even when he’s not in various scenes. Freeman, Tolman, Odenkirk and Hanks are almost as good, although the “doncha know” Minnesota accents seem to come and go…Even with the flaws, “Fargo” is as solid as a Minnesota snowpack.”


“Full of all of the wicked appeal, grounded sentiment, intermittently delicious and horrifying violence, and humor you’d expect from a project that’s bold enough to call itself ‘Fargo,’ this TV adaptation grabs our attention from frame one and does not let go.”


HollywoodLifers, did you tune into the Fargo premiere? If so, let us know what you thought! Did it live up to the movie?

— Elizabeth Wagmeister

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