I’m not really one for getting absorbed into TV box sets, mainly because I find it hard to stick with a series once its initial momentum has fizzled out and it starts veering off in directions I don’t necessarily want to follow. Neither am I usually one for celebrity crushes, believing them as futile wastes of carnal energy considering the probability you will ever meet your beloved. A few notable exceptions being: my first crush Sly Stallone. Perhaps a niche choice but I came of crush age in the era of curtains, is it any wonder I went retro for my masculinity? Benicio del Toro, with his broken-in face like Brad Pitt after a thousand nights of tequila and lonesome Spanish guitar- this is a good thing. And, of course, luminous-eyed thinking woman’s soda bread, Cillian Murphy. However, all this has been blown out of the water by Justified, starring Timothy Olyphant returning to his Kentucky home town as a deputy US marshal with a maverick approach to law enforcement. Oh and a damn good hat, can’t forget the hat.
I won’t pretend to understand the machinations of US law enforcement – there’s police, marshals, state troopers, the FBI, the CIA… It’s confusing to a non-native, we just have police basically. But I can still enjoy the complex plots, the layered storytelling and characterisation and the light touch it deploys. The Deep South of America seems a bit more raw, more wild, more honest than the rest of the country, I think that’s why I find it so compelling. American big cities are broadly able to be understood by international city dwellers, but the backwaters, that is something is so peculiarly American that it makes it fascinating. I am not going to go into deepest Surrey and find the same sort of people I’d find in the backwoods of Kentucky. There’s also the romance, almost myth, of the drawling accents and the choppy, idiosyncratic use of English. I like the way most of the crime in it is depicted as pointless and avoidable and the perpetrators mostly hapless idiots. That is much closer to real life than the usual glamorous portrayals of criminals as stealthy, controlled and smart.
Olyphant is mesmerising as Deputy Raylan Givens, beautifully dressed, strong jawed, almond eyed, catnip to women. He is already my favourite American hero for the fact that although he is a crack shot, he really does not want anyone to get hurt. He doesn’t have the deranged side a lot of American protagonists of this sort seem to have. He also brings a comedy, a lightness to the role that just improves the whole thing. I am a Justified couch potato.