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YMMV / Fargo

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The Film:

  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Is Jerry Lundegaard just a dumb Anti-Villain who didn't think through all the possible ramifications of his simple plan, or is he a sociopath who really doesn't care how his plans will affect anyone else?
    • After Marge arrests Grimsrud and delivers her monologue with him in the backseat, we see him just staring at her. Are Marge's words going totally over his head, or is he actually pondering what she's saying?
      • Similarly, did Grimsrud kill Carl because he refused to pay for half the car, or because Carl threatened his friend Shep?
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    • Wade's refusal to hand over the ransom money as instructed. Was he too greedy to turn over such an immense sum when it could (and did) end up being for nothing? Or was he more concerned with his daughter's safety, and thought the money was his only bargaining chip toward getting her back alive?
  • All There Is to Know About "The Crying Game" / It Was His Sled: Ask anyone who has even a passing knowledge of Fargo, and they'll tell you it's "that movie where Steve Buscemi gets shoved into a wood chipper."
  • Anvilicious: There's more to life than money. Take pleasure from the simple things; good food, a warm bed, a job well done. This is shown with the subtlety of a sledgehammer but as the film demonstrates it's definitely a lesson to take to heart.
  • Award Snub: Though it won two well-earned gongs, many people are still annoyed that The English Patient walked away with all the awards on Oscar night. Still, Fargo is now considered a classic, on the AFI's 100 greatest list, and preserved in the National Film Registry. Meanwhile The English Patient is better remembered for inspiring an episode of Seinfeld.
    • Some see William H. Macy's loss in the Best Supporting Actor category to Cuba Gooding Jr. for Jerry Maguire to be this. Others find it odd that Macy was put here at all, as he's essentially the central protagonist before Marge arrives and was deserving of a Best Actor nomination.
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    • To go along with this, Steve Buscemi failed to receive a Best Supporting Actor nomination.
    • A subversion of sorts for The Independent Spirit Awards. Fargo swept the awards, but it had a budget of several million. The Awards changed the rules so that there was a budget limit to qualify for nomination, not just not having a studio release it.
  • Better on DVD: Although this was a well-received production when released theatrically, a lot of the greatness of the film can only be uncovered and appreciated with repeat viewings.
  • Complete Monster: Gaear Grimsrud is simply a heartless monster who will kill anyone for little reason. Brought in for a simple kidnap and ransom job, Grimsrud demonstrates his cruelty by killing a cop because the man took too long to bribe, and then chases down and kills a couple who witnessed the murder, all without any expression. Grimsrud later loses patience with the kidnapping victim and kills her simply because her crying got on his nerves. When he has a dispute with Carl Showalter over a car, Grimsrud just kills him with an axe and feeds his body into a woodchipper. When he's finally caught by the police, the heroine Marge Gunderson is left stunned over how a human being could do the things Grimsrud has done for just "a little bit of money".
  • Crosses the Line Twice: People getting fed to a woodchipper should not be so comical.
  • Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory: There are a few arguments over what the lumberjack statue is supposed to represent.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: With the busting of William H. Macy's wife Felicity Huffman in the college bribing scandal, the former's character masterminding a scam may hit a little too close to home.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • To people who watched the film before 2008, Sarah Palin talks like the people in Fargo. To people who watched it after, the people in Fargo talk like Sarah Palin. Either way, you laugh (and cringe a little).
    • Fans of Mystery Science Theater 3000 were already well familiar with the Minnesota accents, thanks to the riffing by Joel and the 'bots when making fun of Minnesotans, especially in The Day the Earth Froze.
    • In the film, there's a father-in-law who has a dislike for his son-in-law named "Jerry".
  • Idiot Plot: The movie takes this trope and runs it into the ground; it's astounding how the ever-growing shitstorm that results from Jerry's plan could have been mitigated or avoided completely if some people had just been a little bit smarter or stopped to think for one second.
    • If you're Jerry, make sure the guys you're hiring to kidnap your wife aren't trigger-happy psychos and that you have a reliable way to reach each other in case the plan changes or something goes wrong.
      • Also, don't have your greedy father-in-law (who openly hates you and doesn't even wait until you leave the room to tell his partner he's going to cut you out of the deal) as an investor.
      • Let your wife in on the plan and ask her to play along. Better yet, why not fake the whole thing?
    • If you're Wade, listen to your son-in-law; you are NOT John Wayne.
    • If you're Showalter, maybe your first instinct when you get pulled over shouldn't be to try and bribe the cop.
      • It's also probably not a good idea to piss off your partner, who almost never talks and has already killed four people by this point... Though in Showalter's defense, he had been driving nonstop without sleep since he got shot, suffering blood loss and in unimaginable pain, and very likely wasn't thinking straight.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Showalter is a crook and later murderer, but with his reactions to the insane stuff going on, it's clear he's just as out of his depth as Jerry.
  • Misplaced Accent: The Minnesotan accents used by many of the characters are really more like bastardized Canadian accents, though Rule of Funny is in full effect.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Grimsrud shooting three people when he and Showalter are in danger of getting caught by the State Trooper. Showalter shooting Jerry's father-in-law (an arguable Asshole Victim) and the parking lot attendant.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Mike Yanagita, the chipper and pathetic old classmate with a crush.
  • Squick: Showalter with a hole shot through his cheek, and the sight and especially gruesome sound of Showalter's leg being jammed into a woodchipper while the rest of his body lies shredded in a big red triangle spouting outward from said machine.
  • The Woobie:
    • Jerry, for a while at least, even though his stupendous lack of foresight results in his wife's death. This might make him more a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds.
    • Jerry's wife is even more of a woobie. And his poor son.
    • To an extend, Showalter. He sure has some bad luck, getting beaten up with a belt, shot in the face, killed with an axe, and pulled through a woodchipper all in the course of less than 24 hours.


As a whole

  • Adorkable: Molly has her moments, like making small talk with an anecdote about spiders laying eggs in someone's neck.
  • Awesome Music: See the page for more details.
  • Awesomeness Withdrawal: So far, there have been waits of well over a year between each season. Plus, it only looks to get worse in the future, with the show transitioning to a Louie model and only coming back when and if Noah Hawley has a story worth telling.
  • Complete Monster: Lorne Malvo; V.M. Varga; Owney "Yiddles" Milligan. See those pages for details.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Mr. Wrench and Mr. Numbers, the quirky duo of henchmen. Many praise the actors's chemistry, their cool scenes, and their catchy theme music. It helps that in one way or another, they're some of the only characters to have a presence in all three seasons.
  • Growing the Beard: While Season 1 was well-received, Season 2's reception has been even better. The characters were more fleshed-out and complex and the action was ramped up for the climax. Many of the complaints, like how season 1 was too similar to the Coens's movie, and that many subplots were too detached, were rectified by making season 2 a more original, more cohesive whole.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: Lou suggests to Molly in the Season 1 premiere that she get a job as a hostess at his cafe, as "people in this world are less inclined to shoot a hostess than, say, an officer of the law." Come the season 2 premiere, Rye Gerhardt's third victim and the third death of that season is none other than the hostess at the Waffle Hut. Lou investigated this crime, so he knew that getting shot was still a possibility.
  • Iron Woobie: Lou. In Season 2, he's obviously still troubled by his experiences in Vietnam, his wife's slowly dying, and the case is making him have some very unfortunate feelings about human nature. In Season 1, he can come off as something of a Sad Clown.
  • Star Trek Movie Curse: A weird example, given how all four seasons of Fargo are well-regarded. However, the odd-numbered seasons had significant criticisms: Season 1 sometimes had too many Call Backs to the original movie, and even felt like a retread to some viewers. Season 3 had a Slow-Paced Beginning that made the season drag, and an Ambiguous Ending that upset some for a lack of closure. Both are in contrast to Season 2, which had near-universal acclaim for its more original plot and complex character arcs.

Season index


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