Farewell to ‘Justified’

Justified

There have been so many great TV dramas in the past decade. Too many, if you have a life like mine and have limited hours to watch TV live or even catch up later on demand or online.

With “Mad Men” winding down in curious fashion, “The Americans” getting out in front of me, leaving me unable to keep up, and “Walking Dead” uneven but still rewarding, I’m mostly keeping pace only with the superhero shows like “Arrow,” “The Flash” and “Agents of SHIELD.”

One show that I did keep up with, pretty much every week, was “Justified,” Graham Yost’s show, based on characters created by wonderful writer Elmore Leonard, about U.S. marshals, lowlife criminals and everybody in between in modern-day Kentucky, was too good to miss.

I watched the show live pretty much every week during the course of its six seasons. And I mourned a little bit when “Justified” ended its run six days ago.

If you’ve never watched, I highly recommend it. For so many reasons:

The lead characters, marshal Raylan Givens and criminal Boyd Crowder, are charismatic and fascinating and they’re portrayed by terrific actors in Timothy Olyphant and Walton Goggins.

Other lawmen (and law-women) came and went and a couple dozen wonderful bad guys (and women) have passed through these parts but Raylan and Boyd were, ultimately, the reason we watched every week.

The two – who grew up together, dug coal together, dreamed of getting out of Harlan, Kentucky, and had less than straightforward solutions to problems – did the most fascinating dance for six seasons.

As much as we rooted for Raylan, we agreed with his boss and co-workers that he could be an angry, danger-seeking jerk.

And as much as we wouldn’t want to be on the bad end of a deal with Boyd, we’d also like to have sat down the bar from him, having a beer and listening to him formulate schemes and recounting fascinating characters he met .. and, most likely, swindled or killed.

“Justified” never let us forget that, as shaded and shady as these two could be, they were our protagonists. We were as caught up in their stories – more so, really – as any tried-and-true, straight-arrow characters.

I’ve been to and through Kentucky many times. I’m not sure I pined for the characters of “Justified” – Mags Bennett, Dewey Crow, Wynn Duffy or any of them – to sidle up next to me at a diner.

But it would have been fascinating.

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