When you think of TV networks with quality drama series, A&E is not one that immediately comes to mind. I mostly avoided the network, as it seemed to be little more than another channel that devolved into nothing more the low-cost staged reality show tripe. I wasn’t terribly moved when they started making their own drama series. It was only on a whim and a Netflix suggestion that I gave Longmire a shot about a year and a half ago, and I’ve been a die-hard fan ever since.
Based on the popular series of books by author Craig Johnson, Longmire follows the exploits of Sheriff Walt Longmire and his deputies as they try to keep the peace and solve crimes in the fictional Absaroka County in Wyoming. Walt is an old school cowboy and all around tough guy trying to piece what’s left of his life back together after the death of his wife.
So why do I think you should be watching Longmire ? Take a look at the following five reasons and then tell me a good reason not to!
5. The Main And Recurring Cast Is Outstanding
I’m not often impressed by a cast list, but Longmire has an almost criminal amount of star power behind it. Katee Sackhoff (one of the best and most underrated actresses out there), Lou Diamond Phillips, and Australian veteran character actor Robert Taylor as the titular Walt Longmire round out the main cast. The list of recurring and guest actors is even more impressive, boasting the likes of Gerald McRaney (another of my favorites), Peter Weller, Charles S. Dutton, and Lee Tergesen! These are some of the best in the business coming together to make this show happen. I don’t know about you, but that excites the hell out of me!
4. The Characters Are Interesting And Engaging
Have the all the great actors in the world you want, if you don’t give them something to work with, the show is going to suck. This show knows what is has and gives its actors multiple layers to work with all at the same time. The characters fit into a series of well-worn roles you’d expect them to, but then the show gives them all kinds of dreams, ambitions, fears, and hopes to make them people instead of just broad archetypes. These are living breathing people who can surprise you, inspire you, and just as easily let you down. The best example of this is Bailey Chase as Branch. When we are first introduced to Branch he seems simply the young hotshot jock who thinks he knows better than everyone and is always vying for the boss’ job. You’ve seen this sort of thing in plenty of things, but then the show goes past the surface. It shows a severely flawed yet decent man who is in fact is highly capable and in fact is quite possibly being overlooked at work. In some ways, Branch is a more moral man than Walt, and he would in fact be a pretty good Sheriff. Bottom line, the show is full of characters you’d want to follow no matter what the show was about.
3. The Show Isn’t Trying To Be Cool Or Hip, And That’s What’s So Refreshing
So many shows today try to be clever and slick. Longmire isn’t and it is damn proud of it. It isn’t calling out the tropes of the western or trying to do a fresh spin on things for modern times, it is simply trying to be a good western. The characters in the show fill out traditional roles found time and time again in the western genre. Hell, Walt’s best friend and confidant is a Native American who speaks in a very specific way including not using contractions! Longmire isn’t afraid or apologetic about what is is. It isn’t winking to the audience to show just how aware it is of itself. It plays it straight and the show is better for it.
2. Walt Is More Than A Little Crazy
Yeah, I’m going to just come out and say it, Walt’s kind of nuts. Push him and there is no telling what he might do to you or even to himself. I’m of the mind that his wife used to help even him out a little, but with her gone his fatalistic tendencies go mostly unchecked. He also seems to favor punishing himself over talking things out or sharing. More than once he went to some extreme when a simpler and more effective solution would be to simply sit down and genuinely talk to someone. Self sabotage and destruction come easy to Longmire, talking… not so much. It isn’t a very healthy attitude, but it is damn compelling to watch!
1. Because Great Television Doesn’t Continue To Get Made If People Don’t Watch It
That’s what it really boils down to folks, good shows without viewers don’t last. While the advent of legal streaming sites allow for more and more people to go back and watch and appreciate shows they missed the first time around, it doesn’t change the fact that those shows need first run fans to survive. Networks don’t like to throw around money while waiting for a show to find its audience. People either latch onto something and stick with it or the network throws it into the trash without a second thought. Longmire has been a winner for A&E for the past two seasons straight, but the third season is already scaling back to only ten episodes and shortened seasons rarely bode well for any show.
To anybody who is a fan of the western or police/detective genres you owe it to yourself to check out Longmire. The first two seasons are on Netflix and new episodes are currently running Mondays on A&E so now is the time to saddle up and enjoy some good TV.
I’ll even help get you started on your way, here is the season three opener. Give it a watch and see if Longmire is something for you!