Abbie: The Only Thing I Give A Shit About Is Justified
Abbie has blessed us with words.
Abbie Huertas is the Ricky’s resident artist and occasionally blesses us with writing. Follow Abbie on Twitter @digrupert.
Rights to Ricky Sanchez’s TV Week is brought to you by Kinetic Skateboarding! Not only the Ricky's approved skate shop, but the best place to get Chucks, Vans, any apparel. Use code "DAVESILVER" for 9.1% off your order.
I don’t know how to explain my love of FX’s Justified except to say that it’s a great story and that I love it very much.
I really didn’t expect to end up liking Justified as much as I did in the end. I’d heard it mentioned in passing on a podcast that Leo and I listen to - “hey, if they like it, maybe we could try watching it?” We’d finished The Sopranos, partially motivated by that same reasoning, and needed something to replace it, and FX had just dumped all their originals on Hulu in an exclusive partnership and showed us a few trailers during ad breaks. We’d watched Walton Goggins in Vice Principals and enjoyed him. I'd never seen Timothy Olyphant in anything that I could remember in my adult life but, hey, he’s easy on the eyes. It worked out.
The first episode was exciting. Tommy Bucks, Boyd Crowder, that scene in Ava's dining room at the end. The next few episodes… worried me. I thought it was ugly - lackluster cinematography - and I hated the theme song. I really thought it was going to turn into a dry police procedural, the kind of corny-ass show I constantly rail against, the kind of show I make fun of Leo's father for watching. I didn't want to be wrong about it, since I don’t have the best track record with the shows I choose for us to watch. Of course, not every show (or movie, or album…) has to be the best ever to be worth your time. Just having fun is usually enough. But still, I was nervous.
So we kept watching that first season. I had fun. Timothy Olyphant was hot. Walton Goggins was magnetic. It was fine. And then we finished the first season finale, “Bulletville.” and I think that’s when I knew.
It was just so neat. Neat like tidy, neat like clean. Literally everything happens but nothing is wasted or forgotten. It’s all deliberate. And the whole rest of the show is like that! Late in our watch, maybe season five or so, I said to Leo “this is like Setup And Payoff: The Show.” A story with a deep memory does a lot for me.
So, needless to say we watched the rest of the show, and it was, honestly, perfect. For me, Justified is perfect. Every character gets what’s coming to them. There’s, like, no dangling plot threads. The performances are peak - Timothy Olyphant is the coolest he’s ever been, Walton Goggins breaks my heart, Joelle Carter takes my broken heart and stomps on it.
After watching and finishing The Sopranos, I felt loss. You put in your time, you watch all those hours of content, you get attached. But after watching Justified, I felt profound loss. I cried! Twice, if I recall correctly! They dug coal together! I instantly wanted to go back to the Harlan County of Raylan and Boyd. I wanted to watch it all again. I haven’t yet, but I know I will soon.
I don't know how to explain my love of Justified except to say that it’s a good story. Or, no. It’s not a good story, it’s a great story. Or, no, not even that. It’s many great stories, all in one vessel - the story of Raylan Givens, Boyd Crowder, Ava Crowder. Loretta McCready, Wynn Duffy, Dewey Crowe. Harlan County. It’s entertaining, it’s satisfying. I thought that Justified might be a fluke, that the podcasters I’d heard about it from enjoyed it in an ironic way and not a sincere one. All signs pointed to it being lame.
But, in my decade (and some change) of toiling away at goofy stories and drawings and uploading them on the internet to little or no recognition, from my time in online spaces reading and playing indier-than-indie comics and games, I’ve learned that how something is presented doesn’t matter, how something looks doesn’t matter. What matters is that it’s compelling, that it’s done well, that it has a kernel of truth to it. Justified isn’t some indie web series cooked up by an amateur filmmaker. It's a television show produced by a moneyed company that has seen success. I thought it looked lame as hell, but it’s not. It’s ugly, but that’s okay! Because it bangs!
Since finishing Justified I haven't really examined why I liked it so much beyond what I’ve pointed out — that it’s neat, that its characters are sympathetic and well-performed and that I had scads of fun watching it. And, honestly, I don't think I need to. Sometimes something just does it for you, you know? Sometimes a story is just good. Sometimes Walton Goggins enters a scene spreading his arms wide and saying, with every single one of his teeth, “Raylan Givens!” and that’s enough.