‘Fargo’ Perfected the Season-Length Anthology TV Show

What to expect from Chris Rock's run when 'Fargo' comes back for a fourth season in September.

Fargo Season 4 Release Date
How FX’s Fargo solidified the network’s strategy. FX

After the coronavirus pandemic laid waste to the early portion of the 2020 TV schedule, a snippet of normalcy is finally returning. FX intended to debut the highly-anticipated fourth season of Noah Hawley’s anthology series Fargo, starring Chris Rock, in April, but was forced to delay due to the global production shutdown forced by COVID-19. After months of uncertainty, the network announced Monday morning that the new season will finally premiere on Sunday, September 27.

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TV fans can now rest easy—the best seasonal anthology of the decade is back. All hail the Solversons.

Despite flashier series that utilize the same formula—one self-contained story told over one season before a new, mostly disconnected story is told the next—Fargo is the crème de la crème of the narrative bunch (a dish Season 3’s V.M. Varga, a unique type of foodie, would no doubt enjoy). American Horror Story may have debuted on the same network years earlier and HBO’s True Detective indisputably occupies more of the mainstream TV audience’s headspace. The former can dazzle, but often falls prey to its own atmospheric whims and the latter has been maddeningly inconsistent since its zeitgeist-y 2015 debut. Fargo is simply the best of the bunch.

Creator Noah Hawley makes the straight forward look dizzyingly eccentric, plucking archetypes from seemingly disparate genres and plopping them down into murder mysteries, mob dramas, and sleuth stories. Yes, the aesthetic and dry humor is directly inspired by the Coen Brothers film of the same name. But the details and execution are all freshly original. Fargo is unafraid to experiment with form and function within these finite tales. Everything from fable-esque storybook narration and UFO’s to flashbacks and unexpected time jumps are on the table. From a pure storytelling perspective, it’s one of the most unique shows on TV.

However, bells and whistles can only get you so far if the characters don’t resonate with audiences. As an anthology that reinvents itself from season-to-season, Fargo carries forward the momentum of its charmingly dark style while also managing to develop pop-off-the-page characters in every go-around.

Kind-hearted and capable cop Molly Solverson (Allison Tolman) and chameleonic assassin Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thornton) were scene-stealers in Season 1. Season 2 was just about as perfect a run of episodes as one can create in which every character, both main and supporting, left an indelible mark (special shoutout to Zahn McClarnon’s Hanzee Dent). Season 3, headlined by Ewan McGregor pulling double duty as twin brothers and Mary Elizabeth Winstead powering much of the story, was a similarly delectable dish of delightful debauchery. Fargo‘s concoction of wry humor, quirky characters, seasoning of absurdity and inventive imagination help it stand out at a time in which the small screen is supporting upwards of 530 scripted series.

Season 4 will transport viewers to 1950 Kansas City, when two criminal syndicates fighting for a piece of the American dream have struck an uneasy peace. Together, they control an alternate economy of exploitation, graft and drugs. To cement their truce, Loy Cannon (Chris Rock), the head of the African American crime family, trades his youngest son Satchel (Rodney Jones), to his enemy Donatello Fadda (Tommaso Ragno), the head of the Italian mafia. In return, Donatello surrenders his youngest son Zero (Jameson Braccioforte) to Loy.

What could go wrong?

When Donatello dies in the hospital following a routine surgery, the tenuous truce is threatened. Josto Fadda (Jason Schwartzman) takes up his father’s mantle, but his efforts to stabilize the organization are undermined by his brother, Gaetano (Salvatore Esposito), who has joined the family in Kansas City after building a reputation for ruthlessness in Italy. Crime, family, ruthless gangsters, misunderstandings—it’s all classic Fargo, familiar elements that are deconstructed and rebuilt each season in entirely new and entertaining ways.

The new season promises to be a tale of immigration, assimilation, and power brought to life with yet another impressive cast. More importantly, it revives the best seasonal anthology on TV. September 27 couldn’t come soon enough.

‘Fargo’ Perfected the Season-Length Anthology TV Show