Tuesday, January 7, 2014

TV: Reasons Why You Should Watch Justified

Part of my TV series!

Justified, on cable channel FX, returns January 7 (preview here on Geekexchange.com). It's one of the best shows on TV, and here's why:

image: Goodreads
Elmore Leonard
The author famous for the books behind Get Shorty, Out of Sight, and 3:10 to Yuma wrote the basis for Justified in a short story. He worked as a consultant on the show until his passing in 2013. Watching this show as a writer is a treat. The dialogue is flavorful, efficient, eloquent in its sparseness. There is no wasted dialogue or cheap lines here. Leonard has famously quipped on his ten rules for writing. Considering he says to use regional dialect sparingly, he crafts his character's speech in such a unique way that it does the job without going overboard. It's what the writing community calls voice, and he has loads of it. He wrote a follow up to his short story, Raylan published in 2011, which Justified then used as source material for additional seasons. Every TV show has writers, but what other shows have this guy?

image: promo shot FX
Boyd Crowder
Walton Goggins plays Boyd, a backwoods thug with an expanded vocabulary; the kind of man who will take you down and give a thoughtful speech while doing so. He's a racist and a criminal who becomes a preacher. Who then becomes a criminal again--or was he the whole time? He crafts villainy into anti-hero, but there's never much chance that he's actually a hero. He and Timothy Olyphant's Raylan both come from similar dirt-poor, crime-ridden families, having grown up together. The dynamic between them is intense and occasionally funny, as Boyd tests Raylan's commitment to his marshal duties, and Raylan questions Boyd's oddly particular loyalties.

Ava Crowder
image: Zap2it.com
Lest you think the show is limited to modern cowboys, the women of Justified have complexity and fire that aren't shown enough on TV. Ava, a Crowder by marriage to Boyd's brother (who she is separated from at the start of the show), fends for herself, and makes poor decisions often born out of loyalty, though it's loyalty to criminals. She's tough with a softness, ruthless in way that's heartbreaking to watch. She finds herself the wrong way of the law by habit, but it's her choices that make her compelling. She doesn't choose easy; she is a survivor, and will go to great lengths to preserve herself. Raylan's ex-wife Winona shows maybe a little less spitfire, but she also navigates her own story in unexpected ways. They've hinted a bit US Marshal Rachel's backstory, and every time she's on screen, I want to see more. More Rachel!

The Entire Cast
Okay, let's be honest here. Everybody is awesome on this show. Every actor gets good lines. Even the thugs with one line get a good line. Down to guest stars and extras, I've never once caught on that someone on the show felt disingenuous, like Hollywood had invaded rural Kentucky with too much gloss. Jeremy Davies who plays Dickie Bennett (who also played Dr. Faraday on Lost) is mesmerizing as a petty criminal whose enterprising ways further derail him from any sense of normalcy. There's a reason he was nominated (and won) an Emmy. Margo Martindale also won an Emmy for her guest arc as a terrifying matriarch of a Kentucky-hollar crime ring. Bobby from Supernatural shows up from time to time and is given a satisfying twist to his role in Season 4. Comedian Patton Oswalt doesn't disappoint as a third-rate cop down on his luck.

Take your run-of-the-mill procedural and dip it in rural Kentucky, throw in talented actors and a legendary American author. This is the best show you could be watching.

Do you watch Justified? Are you excited for the new season?


  1. Oh my gosh, SO excited for the return of Justified. The writing is great and the characters are just fabulous - made better by the fact that the actors nail their parts. Glad to see that someone else loves it as much as I do! I'm so glad my boyfriend got me into this show. It's not something I'd watch on my own but I really enjoy it. It's a lot more than meets the eye, I think.

  2. I've never heard of this series before! But we don't have cable or anything, so that could be a reason why, ha ha. We mostly watch stuff on Netflix--I'll have to see if it's on there!

  3. Haven't heard of this before, but you've basically sold me. Love awesome tv shows.

    Sarah Allen
    (From Sarah, with Joy)


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