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'Fargo' creator talks sophomore pressures: 'I can't control how people react'

'Fargo' creator talks sophomore pressures: 'I can't control how people react'
Noah Hawley, creator of FX's anthology series "Fargo," appears Friday at the Television Critics Assn. press tour in Beverly Hills. (Richard Shotwell / Invision)

The sophomore slump has become quite the hot topic this television season.

People are still debating the strength of HBO's "True Detective's" second outing. "Empire," this fall, will see if it can sustain the whirlwind ratings and social chatter of its first go-round on Fox. And then there's FX's "Fargo," which must follow up an acclaimed first season that earned an impressive 18 Emmy nominations.

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Noah Hawley, creator of the FX anthology series, faced reporters Friday at the Television Critics Assn. press tour in Beverly Hills to talk about tuning out the noise that now follows the series based on the 1996 Coen brothers movie.

"I guess there's the things we can control, and the things we can't control," Hawley said. "I can't control how people react to the work that I do. It's a complete reinvention, a completely new story that I think, in the end, evokes the same feelings that I think you had at end of the movie and end of season one."

The second installment of the series travels back to 1979 and pivots its focus to a young Lou Solverson, played by Patrick Wilson (Keith Carradine played the older Solverson, father to kickass officer Molly, in the first season). Young Lou Solverson is a police officer, who along with partner Hank (Ted Danson) is trying to pin down the source of a string of deaths at a Sioux Falls diner. The robust cast also includes Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons, Jean Smart, Nick Offerman, Brad Garrett and Bokeem Woodbine.

The drama is set against the backdrop of a pre-Ronald Reagan era, a time when the death of the family business gave way to the rise of corporate America.

In speaking on the approach taken to evoke the feel of the time without relying on stale tropes, Hawley said the Midwest setting helped in preventing things from feeling cartoonish.

"The Midwest in the '70s hasn't really been explored," Hawley said. "Disco didn't sweep the nation in the same way as it did on the coast. I didn't just want the year to be the backdrop against which we did the story. I wanted to find the way that we experience America at the moment and turn it into a crime story that was evocative of that time."

Hawley continued: "I felt by making it not about flared pants and wide collars, we could get to something which speaks to the American experience."

Aside from the era, the look of the second season will also distinguish it from the first. Viewers can expect the use of freeze frames and split screens to check in on the sprawling cast, Hawley said.

"The look of it is much different. I found my way to '70s filmmaking paradigms," he said.  "I had a much bigger cast [this season], and I wanted to keep track of all of them."

"Fargo" returns to FX with its second season on Oct. 12 at 10 p.m.

I tweet about TV (and other things) here: @villarrealy

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