One of 2014's popular TV trends was the return of the anthology series. By capitalizing on the model embraced by Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story (in which each season is its own story with new characters and settings), shows like True Detective and Fargo drew massive critical attention with their contained narratives and seemingly bottomless potential for new seasons.
True Detective (the show that kicked off last year’s anthology trend) has stumbled in its second season; the casting process was public and exhausting, and reviews of the new season suggest that lightning hasn’t struck writer Nic Pizzolatto twice. This surprising sophomore slump might seem to bode ill for FX’s Fargo, which returns this fall with a fresh story and new cast members like Patrick Wilson, Ted Danson, Nick Offerman, Kirsten Dunst and Jesse Plemons.
All of the aforementioned actors make appearances in FX’s new 30-second teaser for season two of Fargo creator Noah Hawley’s Coen Brothers riff. The trailer features many familiar signifiers from season one — frigid temperatures, perky accents, moral quandaries, idyllic diners — as well as a spectacular Ted Danson beard and sturdy narration from Wilson, who plays a 1970s version of Keith Carradine’s Lou Solverson (seen in Fargo season one).
After two short clips, this new Fargo season two preview does nothing to suggest the upcoming season will run into the same obstacles as the second helping of True Detective. After all, the casting process for Fargo season two didn’t seem nearly as complex or difficult, perhaps because the star power from the first season wasn’t quite as impressive or standard-bearing as Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson from True Detective. The idea of connecting the second season’s narrative to the first one (through the eyes of one of its more intriguing side characters) will also give the Fargo season two narrative a clear through-line to its predecessor that True Detective lacks.
Thirty heavily edited seconds can be misleading, to be sure. It’s impossible to know whether this new season of Fargo will deliver the same pleasures as the first one - and it’s quite possible that the sheer thrill of seeing a Fargo TV show that was able to carve out its own unique identity will have worn off many viewers, by the time season two rolls around. Fargo has, at the very least, built up enough good will for fans of season one to give the second installment a fair chance.
Fargo returns to FX in September 2015.