Why 'Fargo's Season 2 Cast Is Better Than Season 1

Season 2 of Fargo exploded onto screens across the country, pulling in critical acclaim and instantly announcing that it would not be facing the same sophomore slump that True Detective faced — that show being the other big crime-anthology success of 2014 — when it returned in 2015 for a second season. Fargo wasted no time in its premiere and introduced a compelling plot, engaging characters, and showcased a cast that has more pedigree than any other show on television. It's Fargo's Season 2 cast that's helping critics and audiences say it's a jump in quality over the already-great first season of the show, and we're only one episode in!

The Fargo Season 2 cast expands on the structure of the Season 1 cast, in that it has a big Hollywood name to draw viewers in (Billy Bob Thorton, Kristen Dunst), a beloved television actor who dabbles in film, but is usually seen in low-key roles (Martin Freeman, Jesse Plemons), and a well-regarded everyman-type who causes audiences to say "Oh! That guy!" (Colin Hanks, Patrick Wilson). What Season 2 doesn't have is a star newcomer like Allison Tolman. Instead, Fargo is busy fitting in as many familiar faces as possible in roles that might not even be around for more than one episode.

Here are all the reasons the cast of Fargo Season 1 is better than Fargo Season 1, which is really saying something.

1. Even Small Parts Get Big Actors

While Macaulay may be the Culkin that most people know, anyone who has seen Igby Goes Down or Scott Pilgrim vs. The World knows that when it comes to acting, Kieran Culkin is the superior Culkin. (Pizza-based Velvet Underground covers, however, is a different story.) Kieran delivered a strong performance in the premiere episode as the frantic, ambitious Rye of the Gerhardt crime family. However, it seems like the premiere episode will be his only performance, as in the episode he is struck by a car, stabbed, and then sealed in a freezer. Despite having so little time in the series, Rye's death is the catalyst that will push the action of the series forward, and Culkin gave such a strong performance that audiences will be able to vividly remember Rye for the rest of the season. Upcoming supporting actors who will likely play memorable roles include Brad Garrett, Bokeem Woodbine, and Bruce Campbell as Ronald Reagan.

2. Fargo Isn't Afraid To Cast Against Type

Fargo Season 1 dabbled in casting against type by casting the ever-charming Billy Bob Thorton as a the slinking hitman Lorne Malvo, and the incredibly likable Martin Freeman as human-piece-of-garbage Lester Nygaard. Fargo Season 2, however, is taking casting-against-type to the next level. Television sitcom veteran Jean Smart plays the menacing matriarch of the Gerhardt crime family, the slick Jefferey Donovan of Burn Notice plays the rugged Dodd Gerhardt, and Jesse Plemons — whose presence in shows like Friday Night Lights and Breaking Bad seems to guarantee any TV show with a positive legacy — plays the friendly, lovable, and down-to-earth Ed Blomquist, who accidentally ends up as a murderer. Fargo is taking risks by casting known actors in unexpected roles, but there is big payoff potential for both the series and the actors if the performances are well-received.

3. Kirsten. Dunst.

Kirsten Dunst is one of the best actors working today. Dunst is one of a select number of American actresses to win Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival for her devastating performance in Melancholia. Her Fargo character Peggy Blomquist is already in over her head when she accidentally runs over a gangster, and drives home with his head still through the windshield. As the season goes on, the Blomquist family is likely to fall deeper and deeper into the tragedy they have brought upon themselves, and Dunst will get an unprecedented platform to display her acting chops. Last season, Fargo gave Tolman the platform that launched her career, and with a start like Dunst in that slot it's not too early to start predicting who could win the best actress Emmy next year.

Every actor in this show giving their own individual performance make Fargo Season 2 worth considering, but all of these actors and characters in the same show make Fargo an absolutely must-see, and improve on every casting choice they made in Season 1.

Images: Chris Large/FX (3)