'Fargo' Showrunner on Keeping a Strong Female Identity Throughout Three Seasons

Chris Large/FX

Noah Hawley reveals how he stays in tune with the original Coen brothers film by sticking to certain types of characters.

Fargo is TV's version of a high school reunion. Every year it returns, and viewers are eager to see how much everything has changed — while also hoping it will still look somewhat the same. THR spoke with series creator Noah Hawley about how he keeps the series, now in its third season, both fresh and familiar.

Even with cast and storyline changes every season, what have you tried to keep consistent on the series?

Fargo has always had a very strong female identity because the movie version did. So in the first season, that literally translated into the central character of Molly Solverson [Allison Tolman]. In the second season, we didn't have a female police officer, so we expanded the female identity with characters like Jean Smart's Floyd Gerhardt and Kirsten Dunst's Peggy Blumquist. This season, we were back to female law officers with Gloria Burgle [Carrie Coon] and expanded the theme with Nikki Swango [Mary Elizabeth Winstead].

What did you try to do differently this season?

The idea of examining the things people will do for money wasn't something we tackled a lot in the first season, and it was an element in season two. So in season three, this was something I really wanted to explore.

Do you make a conscious effort every season to keep these themes going, or do they just pop up as you're planning the episodes?

These are mediations on a theme. In order to play jazz, you first have to know how to play the tune as written. Then you have the flexibility to improvise, which is invigorating. There are no rules written down anywhere. I just follow my instincts. 

This story first appeared in a June standalone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

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