Fargo is a terrific show, but with series creator Noah Hawley attached to so many other projects and committed to making them all brilliant, it’s one that takes its time between seasons. The fourth season has been announced and will star Chris Rock as the new story’s central protagonist, a crime boss. But we won’t be seeing it any time soon, since it’s not slated to begin production until later this year and it’s not slated to be aired until at least 2020.
Fans of FX’s coldest-blooded drama need other shows with a bleak tone or a cold setting or an engaging and pulpy crime story to tide us over in the long breaks between seasons of Fargo. Here are 10 Shows To Watch If You Like Fargo.
10 The Killing
Fargo is a show about cold-blooded characters who kill people in cold blood and leave a trail of cold corpses in their wake. So, thematically, it makes sense that most of the show’s scenes and settings heavily feature snow, ice, people’s breath being visible in the air, people wrapped up in thick coats etc.
The show looks and feels as cold as it needs to in order to weave its dark tales of graphic violence. The same goes for The Killing, another crime drama with an icy setting and an equally icy storyline. A show about murder is a show about people surrounded by dead bodies. Dead bodies are cold. Setting those shows in a cold environment seems like a no-brainer. These two shows have figured it out.
9 American Crime Story
Like Fargo, American Crime Story is an anthology series that weaves a tale of crime and deception in each of its seasons. The only distinction is that in American Crime Story, the criminals are real and the stories are true. So, in other words, it’s like real-life Fargo. There have only been two seasons so far, so it’s really easy to catch up.
The first season made the O.J. Simpson trial relevant again for the first time since it actually happened in the ‘90s. Meanwhile, the second season, which if anything was more acclaimed than its predecessor, focused on the murder of fashion mogul Gianni Versace.
8 Ray Donovan
The criminals in Fargo are rarely the kind of figures we’ve seen on TV before. Some of them are the kind of mob bosses and hitmen and guns-for-hire that we’ve seen in countless crime shows before. But a lot of the characters also occupy usually unseen roles on the fringes of the criminal underworld, playing the gangsters against one another for a profit.
Ray Donovan is the story of one such figure, a “fixer” who cleans up crime scenes and deals with criminal threats to the Hollywood glitterati. He does the dirty work for upper-class snobs. It’s a pretty awesome show.
On paper, Legion might not seem like the right show for a fan of Fargo. It’s a superhero drama connected to the X-Men movie franchise about some obscure characters from the comics. However, since the series was developed for FX by Noah Hawley, who also previously adapted the Coen brothers’ movie for the small screen, it has the same dramatic storytelling devices and writing style as Fargo.
It’s just as dark and its characters are just as interesting as Fargo. The series is set to air its third and final season later this year, so it’s a nice, slim box set to binge.
6 Twin Peaks
If you’re looking for a mystery series where the shocking revelations in a criminal investigation chill your spine more than the snowy trees in the background, then look no further than David Lynch’s small-screen masterpiece Twin Peaks. The first episode begins with the body of the local homecoming queen washing up on the shore of the nearby lake, and what follows is a bleak odyssey through the fabric of reality and a very surreal behind-the-curtain peek at the forces behind the murder.
The show remained a cult hit until it was revived by Showtime and the audience it had amassed across 25 years of existence finally gave it the viewership it deserved.
5 The Sopranos
The second season of Fargo was heavily built around a crime family. We’ve seen crime families dip in and out of seasons of Fargo, but they were right at the heart of season 2. It was led by the great Jean Smart playing the matriarch of the Gerhardt crime syndicate, who managed to control and manipulate the emotions of her three sons.
In this sense, that season is The Sopranos times three. In The Sopranos, Tony Soprano is a New Jersey crime boss who can’t get his psychotic mother out of his head. He goes to therapy, he tries to cut his mother out of his life, but even after she tries to kill him, he can’t let go of her.
Fargo’s depiction of violence is almost surreal. It’s not going for realism – it’s going for the aesthetic. The same goes for Dexter, whose violence is disturbing and horrifying, yet about as far from realistic as it could get.
It’s a show about a serial killer who quenches his urge to kill by killing other serial killers, only to occasionally become the target of a serial killer himself. If it was set in icy Minnesota instead of sunny Miami, Dexter could be a season of Fargo. It doesn’t have a brand new story in every season, but it does have a new villain, so it’s kind of an anthology series.
3 Black Mirror
Charlie Brooker’s dark, twisted anthology series about the dangers of technology is perfect for any fan of Fargo. The great thing about Fargo is that it tells little stories about really messed-up characters and we stop in for the worst part of their lives before moving on to the next batch of messed-up characters.
Black Mirror tells even littler stories – as its anthology format is episode-by-episode, not season-by-season – about even more messed-up characters. Each episode ends with a powerful message about our society as gravy, too. Anyone who enjoys Fargo for its dark tone and shocking characters needs to see Black Mirror.
2 Better Call Saul
The tone of Fargo is a blend of crime drama and black comedy. It’ll get you deeply invested in the tug-o’-war between the cops and the criminals, but a laugh drawn from a dark place won’t be too far away. This tone lines up beautifully with that of Better Call Saul, the prequel/spin-off of Breaking Bad.
While the original show blended crime and dark comedy in fun ways, it wasn’t as overt as it is in the spin-off. Since the show turns Breaking Bad’s funniest character into the flawed lead protagonist, the tone of Better Call Saul is far more comedic than its predecessor. Plus, comedy legend Bob Odenkirk makes a hilarious and surprisingly compelling lead.
1 True Detective
Fargo is a crime anthology series with really messed-up crimes and super dark characters in every season. True Detective is a crime anthology series with really messed-up crimes and super dark characters in every season. Each of the seasons of Fargo are separated by a slightly different tone.
They all follow the basic ice-cold black-comic style of the original Coen brothers film, but they each tell a different kind of story in a different way. The same goes for True Detective: season 1 is a Southern Gothic murder mystery, season 2 is more into Lynchian surrealism, and season 3 is actually quite in tune with Fargo.