The Oscar nominees for 2013 were just announced and the backlash is huge, as nothing creates strong opinions like someone else’s opinions. However, in these times of argument and sarcastic tweets about Battleship, one opinion stands alone as universal.
It is the opinion that Justified is the best show on TV right now. I can’t let it lay claim to the greatest show ever, as Deadwood once existed, but in the current realm of boxes that shoot visuals into your home, Justified reigns supreme.
Oh, five reasons for that? Well, I just happen to have that number.
It’s absurdly fun.
Sure, Justified has weaker episodes (I’ve yet to watch a totally bad one though), but it’s always entertaining. This might be because it’s the only show that has passed being confident in itself and has developed a sense of actual swagger. Sure, it cares about what the viewers think, and it is usually crowd-pleasing, but it isn’t afraid to switch gears on the drop of a hat.
A lot of shows now seem to be afraid of jokes, as if something funny is going to completely undermine whatever serious stuff is going on. Justified usually uses humor as chances to build character. The way a real person jokes is often a good indicator of their interests, their morals and the way they interact with others. Justified uses humor to reveal characters, and to pull back the curtains on what might be previously inaccessible about them. Sure, how they feel is most prominently revealed in who they decide to shoot, but the humor and jokes give those explosions of violence that much more impact.
It never takes itself too seriously.
Justified may lack the obvious depth that shows like Breaking Bad and Boardwalk Empire force their audience to consider, but that doesn’t mean that it’s a thematically shallow; it’s completely the opposite. However, in TV shows that are hinged on how far they can push limits and make the audience feel bad about what they’ve just witnessed, Justified stands apart with a show that can play it dark, and then, in the next episode, make a complete cartoon of a plot, without losing momentum or interest.
The writers have created such a world that remains constrained by realism, but not by mood or tone. This allows a lot of room to play in Harlan County. The characters and the plots aren’t bound to some unnamed tonal area where everyone has to be sobbing or about to sob. It has leeway, not because it’s massively popular or doesn’t give a shit about the flow of a story, but because the world that the characters of Justified inhabit isn’t limited to any certain path.
Stuff might get worse, and stuff might get better. Stuff happens, and the randomness of life and what it brings is one of the things that Justified takes into account. You never know what’s going to happen, and the surprises are often wonderfully built up, but still utterly shocking when they occur.
Raylan Givens rules in every sense of the word.
Timothy Olyphant is one of my favorite actors on the planet. He has a mix of good looks, swagger and intensity that’s rarely found in things that aren’t The Rock. His face is the first picture to pop up when you Google how to tell if your girlfriend is cheating on you. If a guy says that he wishes he wasn’t Timothy Olyphant, kill him now, before he tells the other robots that the humans are getting suspicious. I’m a heterosexual man, but I couldn’t shake hands without Timothy Olyphant without remarking how strong, yet comfortably gentle, they felt to touch.
As Raylan Givens, he gives the best performance of his life. He’s got a cool exterior, and is bubbling with rage on the inside. He isn’t just Sheriff Bullock in the twenty-first century. He’s a man with a troubled past and a troubled present, who is more than willing to be the hero, but only on his terms. He never crosses into becoming an anti-hero, because his morals are extremely clear. His intentions, though, and his reasoning, are often what makes defining him hazy.
The other cast members are perfect.
Boyd Crowder, played by the great Walton Goggins, is the best shade of grey that you’ll see on television. He doesn’t have the overt moral (or lack thereof) undertones that Walter White makes you consider, if only because the portrayal of Boyd is actually more understated. You literally have no idea what he is. He’s an enigma of a man, and is a endlessly fascinating, because he does nothing but raise questions about his intentions. He’s a fully formed character that constantly makes you ask “Formed with what?”
The U.S. Marshall’s office that Raylan works at has, over the course of a few seasons, gone from being a stereotypical room full of cops (old boss, black officer, white officer), to a fully fleshed out unit, that interacts with each other all in unique ways. The main villains on the show, Bo Crowder (M.C. Gainey), Mags Bennet (Margo Martindale), Limehouse (Mykelti Williamson), and others, have all followed the trend of being interesting in their various pursuits and motivations. A big theme of Justified is the importance of family, and the family that has made up Justified’s cast over the first three seasons and current fourth have been nothing short of consistent and brilliant.
It’s so accessible.
Because of all these strengths, it doesn’t take a lot to hook someone of Justified. Sure, they might be disappointed that not every episode relates strongly back to the overall arc of the season, but these are petty concerns.
I’ve already listed the reasons as to why Justified is great, but if you need to show someone something to get them intrigued, then look no further than the following clip.