The story of season one won't continue if the franchise does, but the Coens have enough material for years of inspiration.
In my initial review of Fargo, one of the things that struck me about the miniseries was that it was a reimagining of the Coen brothers movie, but not just that Coen brothers movie. Fargo provided the setting and the spine for the show, but there were elements of Burn After Reading (Glenn Howerton’s personal trainer over his head in a blackmail scheme), A Serious Man (Stavros Milos’ fear of the vengeance of God, which ends with a terrible, quasi Biblical natural disaster), and No Country for Old Men (with Lorne Malvo seeming, like Anton Chigurh, supernatural and unkillable). And as others have already noted, the miniseries was full of Coen Easter eggs.
In an interview with Alan Sepinwall, writer-producer Noah Hawley says he’s still thinking over the possibilities for a potential new season of the show, though a few options seem already ruled out. The Lorne Malvo / Lester Nygaard story is over, and Hawley believes (probably rightly) that continuing in the same setting with the same characters would turn the show into a quirky Picket Fences serial. I’m guessing, for the same reason, that it wouldn’t work to tell another Minnesota-nice-vs.-evil story in the same setting but a different year.
And yet I’m guessing the series was both popular and acclaimed enough that it will be irresistible to continue, in American Horror Story anthology form. Hawley could, say, tell different “true”-crime stories set in different regions–it had no problem relocating to Vegas briefly, for instance, and while it may be odd to have a season 2 of Fargo set in, say, Florida, most of Fargo didn’t take place in Fargo either.
But if Hawley and FX want another idea, my original review gives me one: why not turn Fargo into, essentially, Coen Brothers Theater, each season telling a different story loosely, dreamily inspired by one of the Coens’ movies? A few possibilities:
* No Country for Old Men. On the one hand, as I say above, there were already elements of this story in Fargo season one–and arguably, in many ways Breaking Bad already applied much of No Country‘s aesthetic and moral themes to TV. But it’s the kind of bleak, elemental, violent story that’s all but made for FX, so it would have to be tempting.
* Inside Llewyn Davis. This is probably one of the less commercial possibilities for a Coen TV adaptation–which is why it would be my dream project. Even after Mad Men, a miniseries about the folk music scene of the early ’60s would be a hard show to pitch at any network, but after the success of Fargo‘s first season, FX and Hawley have some cultural capital to get viewers to take a chance with them: why not a story about what it means to be an artist?
* O Brother, Where Art Thou? Failing a Llewyn Davis adaption, a musical, or musical-esque period piece like this, with a more accessible sense of humor, might be a more sellable way of changing up from the dark crime themes of the first season, while still getting a chance to play with those distinctive Coen voices.
* Raising Arizona. Of course, if Hawley and FX want to go more comic with the next season, why not go all the way? A screwball caper comedy involving crime, class, parenting and fertility could be smart fun. And might I suggest re-casting Allison Tolman in a Holly-Hunter-esque role?
* The Big Lebowski. The Internet would explode.
The Coens have a big library of work of course, so they could keep a franchise like this supplied for a decade and more. Your suggestions are welcome in the comments–and bonus points to anyone who can make a convincing case for Fargo: Barton Fink: