Full Actualization

Since the Hollywood Foreign Press is collectively off their rocker I wanted to devote a post to some of the delightful performances in season 2 of Fargo. I promise this will be a spoiler-free homage.

Fargo’s anthology format allowed this past season to take place in 1979 and, according to my resident historical expert [my father], it captured the general sense of hopelessness, frustration, and tedium of the historical moment well.

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The hangover from the wild 60s,
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general insecurity,
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ghosts of Vietnam,
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distrust of government,
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looming corporatism,

 

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and existentialist ennui.

While last season annoyingly undermined its feminist potential by confining its pregnant cop, one of the most interesting elements of the original film, to bed rest for the finale, this season redeemed itself with fantastic female characters who aren’t robbed of their spotlight.

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Chief Gunderson in action
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Deputy Solverson working from home

 

This time, we don’t get a female police detective, but we do get a female mob boss

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and, most interestingly a hairdresser intent on improving her life by fully living up to her potential.

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In another generation, Peggy would have probably just resigned herself to the painful slog of life as a housewife in rural Minnesota. But this is a woman in 1979, who has read all the books and magazines and will not just give up to the monotony of life.

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The other characters–and I think the audience at times–see Peggy as out of touch with the realities of her life and circumstances. And this is often the case, for spoilery reasons I will not go into here. But for Peggy, realizing her full potential in the face of crazy events is not unlike women challenging the patriarchy. She just sees people underestimating her, and she is good in a crisis.

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If it were the 90s, she might have a career as a motivational speaker

Peggy and the other female characters consistently face a society that has reluctantly accepted some feminist gains, but ultimately does not expect women to occupy new roles in society or the home. This manifests itself overtly, in one character who is violently patriarchal

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and in others who are [perhaps inadvertently] kindly patronizing:

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Yet the promises of liberation and reaching one’s potential also come with unrealistic expectations. Once women can have it all, they are expected to. Peggy makes this realization not so much as a justification for her actions, but as an indictment of a system in which she has been set up to fail.

Peggy’s journey in the season is (symbolically) every woman’s journey. In her face I can see the disappointments of generations of women.

 

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Spoiler alert!

She gets to smash the patriarchy a bit, too

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4 thoughts on “Full Actualization

  1. I need to see this season ASAP! Totally digging it based on this. Also, I am in favor of anything that is at all similar to Kirsten Dunst’s amazing, kooky, small-town Minnesotan Amber Atkins character from the classic (?) Drop Dead Gorgeous.

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