The Best (Southern) Show You’re Not Watching: Justified

13 Apr

As a girl who spent a large portion of my life growing up in the South (and no, I do not mean to say that Texas is the South… it’s not… it’s Texas, I’m referring to Tennessee here) I have grown to truly appreciate Southern culture.

As full of hateful ugly things as it is sometimes, it is also very full of some amazing beautiful people who do some amazing beautiful things. And as it’s people who make up our culture and it’s people will define where it will go.

“Justified,” may just be a T.V. show but it is also a celebration of the South and its people. The good and the bad and those somewhere in-between, all are set against each other in Shakespearean situations and respond in equally Shakespearean  ways, whether that be jaw-dropping soliloquys or wit-entrenched fight scenes.

However, most importantly for me is it’s ability to speak about real problems that exist in the South in ways that show how complicated they are. Whether it’s drugs—the show’s already dealt with both drug creation (meth and marijuana) as well as drug trafficking—or now the biggest issue I heard about when living in the south: coal-mining and mountaintop removal.

Just today, this article about moutaintop removal and coal mining has been making the rounds on my Facebook, but it’s already been the main storyline of the past few episodes of this show. And, while the show obviously has it’s main goal set on entertainment, it also tells the story of how this happens in small Southern communities and how small community issues are anything but simple.

And if that wasn’t enough to convince you, I’ve created a simple list of

My Top 5 Reasons to Watch Justified!

  1. Timothy Olyphant:(sometimes he even shows up without a shirt…) And as an actor he is really coming into his own, with this being his third or fourth sheriff/big-gun-on-campus role role it shouldn’t come as a surprise but he doesn’t disappoint. And as Raylan Givens, he is given a whole world of a character to make shine. A southerner who leaves his small country town for the big sights of Miami, he is punished by being sent back. His inner-battle against his home-community versus his big city life, is one I’ve seen explored in the South before but never so completely as with this character.
  2. Erica Tazel:She’s cute, but she’s also badass! In a world of entertainment that boxes in female characters to make them easy to swallow, Tazel and her character push the borders. Though her character has only had one real episode focussed on her, the character and actress are worth taking note of. And, as a newer actress, she still personally up-dates her own Facebook page. If that doesn’t prove to you she’s really Southern (even if Texan-southern), I don’t know what does. And authenticity matters in shows like this, and it shows.
  3. Margo Martindale:You may not know this actress’ name, but my guess is you recognize her. And this may be her best role yet. I wish I could find the video of her speech that she delivers, as the matriarch of the local marijuana-farming family, to the community meeting about coal mining. Seriously. Amazing. When I said Shakespearean soliloquy I was thinking of this speech. And if we’re going to talk about strong women and strong female characters, this lady and the character of Mags Bennett that she plays, are monumental.
  4. Joelle Carter:Though her character has played a smaller role in this newer season, she is still super awesome. In addition to being another strong female character in this fabulous ensemble cast, the character, and her relationships, have added depth to the show that I feel other shows often avoid. And that should be applauded.
  5. Walton Goggins, his character Boyd Crowder, and the relationship between Boyd and Raylan:With a name like Walton Goggins, you know this man is coming by his Southern-ness honestly. But this man, the character he plays, are anything but predictable. In the short life span of the show so far this character has transformed from a Neo-nazi racist drug trafficker into a born-again pacifist who can’t quite stay peaceful and is taken advantage of for the past he wants to leave behind. And it works. Not only that but the relationship between Boyd and Raylan not only offers prime acting duets between Goggins and Olyphant, but it has created one of the best foils I’ve seen in a long timeAnd aren’t they cute? But seriously, this couple could be one of the classics. And I would say more, as it’s obvious I’m trying to shove about three points into my fifth, but I hope you get the gist. These characters, these actors, this show, is awesome and worth watching.

And that’s that. If you trust my opinion, and I know some of you do, I highly suggest as least giving the series a look.


3 Responses to “The Best (Southern) Show You’re Not Watching: Justified”

  1. Sarah April 13, 2011 at 9:26 pm #

    Oh Shana, you have touched on a topic close to my heart. . .

    I haven’t seen the show, but what you write makes me want to watch it. As for mountain-top removal, I know a little more about that. Reasonable arguments can be made for both sides, those who are for it and those who oppose it.

    It does create jobs, many times in place where jobs are scarce. And it is safer for the miners. We all know that deep mines are dangerous; they are filled with poisonous gases and in constant danger of collapse. Mountain-top removal does not put the miners in that danger. Any family who has ever lost a member to a mining accident is probably, at least partially, in favor of moutain-top removal. After all, it’s hard to argue that you would rather lose a family member than the mountain behind your house. As a member of one of those families myself, I know how they feel.

    As a child of the mountains, it breaks my heart to see them so changed by man. Refilling with the same dirt does not make the same land; the native plants are gone and replaced with regular grass and smaller trees. Do we really want the only place we can see those native plants to be in the National Park? I know I don’t. Anyone can say that the new layout of the land makes way for more business, as the coal companies do, but we are a people known for being tied to and, in many cases, defined by our land. Read any Appalachian lit. or sociology research and you will find this. Changing the land, in many cases, changes the people around it.

    Also, it is important to bear in mind that coal companies have an extensive history of shady business practices. They have always been known for not complying with safety standards in the deep mines and their infamouse broad form deeds, which took the deep mining rights and gave the company the option of taking your home. So, it is ingrained in many of us from birth not to trust them.

    • redshana April 13, 2011 at 9:39 pm #

      I think you would totally dig this show. It talks about basically all of this without ever being judgmental or really coming down on one side or the other. I didn’t write about her, but even the woman who plays the face of the coal company (yes, another strong female character on this show) is appealing in her own way; it really makes you see both sides. The writing on this show is just great.

      So, yeah, watch it and see if you like it! I’d be interested to her your point of view on it.

  2. nikki April 14, 2011 at 1:40 am #

    I love everything you said about this show! I’m counting down until the next episode airs (20 minutes). I wasn’t excited about watching this show in the beginning, it was Adam’s idea, but I love it!

    The thing you didn’t say thay I would have: it’s called justified because so far, each time Raylan shoots someone, it is justified.

    I wish Loretta would be on more 😥

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