Friday, April 12, 2013

Justified Season 4: Better and Better

I've talked about Justified (a very modern take on the old western shoot-em-up) here before, and I will begin this time with this: many of my friends would probably not enjoy it. It is a very violent show, with some swearing and a bit of sexuality and normally I would not even watch a show like this, but these stories and these characters and the moral conflict and the good vs. evil is all SO good and so effective and so powerful that I keep coming back for more. The performances are top-notch, the scripts are clever, witty, exciting, suspenseful, gritty, and just amazing. 
Timothy Olyphant as Raylan Givens
Having been raised as I was, I find myself able to watch Justified with a certain critical detachment that I don't always have. I'm able to put on my analytical critic's-daughter hat and appreciate the incredible talent and quality of the work and dismiss the less desirable elements of the show. It's strange, because I wouldn't watch an R-rated movie with similar content, but this show, which would seriously push the boundaries of a PG-13 type rating, is tolerable. Enigma much? 


Anyway, I just completed Season 4. I was hesitant to keep watching after Season 3, in which a couple of nefarious characters went too far for even my semi-detachment. I won't go into details, but if I were to watch this show again, I would skip Season 3. But Season 4 did not disappoint. It didn't tread into the cesspit that Season 3 dabbled in, and it managed to be compelling and heart-poundingly good. Raylan has some excellent moments this year with his dad, his ex-wife, and especially with Boyd Crowder, who remains my favorite character. 

Season 4 did feel more bloody, though it may just be that I don't recall from last year. This was an extremely gory season, with blood splattering on walls and windows and lots of shooting, and a pretty high body count by the end. However, I thought season 4 was a huge improvement on season 3-- in terms of story and character development. It was such fun to be drawn into the show again, to see Raylan at his butt-kicking best, and to see Boyd and Ava's relationship and personal issues explored.


I could discuss the subject of violence and how shows like Justified don't realistically portray the long-term ramifications of so much death and destruction on both the people involved and the community at large, not to mention the pain and slow return-to-reality of the families of victims, but the show isn't about that. That's not the point. And the truth is, Justified actually does touch on these things-- it is a very layered show-- there is violence, but there is also honesty and integrity and grief and sadness and pain and regret and punishment. And through it all, through the gore and the guns and the wickedness and the crime, there is love.

I find myself surprised by how much I like this show. And that my favorite character is one bad dude... 
Walton Goggins as Boyd Crowder from IMDB


Told you. I'm an enigma. 

If you can stomach the subject matter, this really is a very high quality TV show. For more information, here is a decent content overview of Season 1 at Common Sense Media. Though I would have rated the violence higher, and for the record, my 16 and now 18-year old sons do not watch this show. I think it ought to be reserved for adult audiences only...

5 comments:

Chris said...

Joyce and I love "Justified," too, and as you know, she is much less tolerant of graphic or over-the-top violence, language and sex. So for anyone who might wonder about the level here, it's still basic cable, which is not HBO or Showtime. It does get rough and allows a couple of words that we still don't hear on the commercial networks, but I'm not sure the violence is any worse than NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox or the CW. (Have you seen "CSI" lately?) But it also doesn't approach such "premium" cable shows as "Game of Thrones" or "Dexter," not to mention "Sex and the City" or "The Sopranos."

Steph said...

I can't compare to any of those shows, having not seen them, including CSI, so I appreciate the comment!

Jennifer Aguiar said...


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Steph said...

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