One night, my husband reaches for the remote. He browses the selection on Netflix without any real conviction. You know what I mean – the stereotypical man-with-remote-thing. He stops on Longmire. A cowboy who’s also a sheriff. Fantastic. I send up a silent prayer of please, not this, but he selects it and the show starts to play.
I’d love to tell you the very first episode pulled me in and I was hooked immediately. I wasn’t. But, I was interested enough to watch another episode. And another. And by then, I really was hooked (and hooked hard, I must add).
The title character, Walt Longmire, is a typical small-town sheriff, stoic to the bone, and oh-so set in his ways. He takes no nonsense, is strong and silent, but effective enough that the mayor of his county has kept him on as sheriff even when Walt isn’t always likeable. In any normal circumstances, Walt Longmire is that character that causes me to stop watching the show after half an episode. I don’t like the small-town alpha male. But. Walt Longmire isn’t as close-minded as he seems.
Now, I’m going to try my best to keep this spoiler free, but if I make a mistake, please forgive me. 🙂
The show starts a year after Walt’s wife passed away. He’s dealing with some leftover emotional demons, but must also deal with random intrigues popping up in his daily life. And there are intrigues. Especially when his deputy starts campaigning against him for the post of sheriff.
The first thing I loved about this show is the character Henry Standing Bear, portrayed by Lou Diamond Phillips. I love the way Henry talks. I love his attitude, his wisdom and his wit. And I also love me some Lou Diamond Phillips. 😀 He’s one of those actors I can watch in anything, so when Henry made his first appearance, I already felt a little better about this show. His portrayal of Henry kept me watching.
I was also really drawn to Katee Sackhoff’s character, Vic. We’re bombarded with so many shows in which the female cop always looks like she’s stepped out of a magazine. Perfectly curled and styled hair. So much makeup that it seems she’s wearing a real-life filter. High heels and designer pantsuits. She runs after perps with curls flapping in the wind, somehow makes that impossible leap over the beggar in the street, and still manages to catch the bad guy without breaking a heel or a nail. Yeah. No.
Vic doesn’t have time for bullshit. She’s all business, tells it like it is, and actually looks like a cop. She’s gorgeous, but not plastered down by a million layers of makeup. Her hair is almost always in a ponytail; ask any woman, any woman at all, when you’re about to head into something physical, you tie your hair. That stuff gets in the way!
Aside from actually looking the part, though, she has the smarts and physical ability to get the job done. She asks the questions Longmire internalises, and is the yin to his yang. Their dynamic was unconventional for TV, but so compelling to watch.
Then, Mathias, the chief of tribal police from the Cheyenne reservation, played by Zahn McClarnon. This guy is the best. I loved the way he gave Longmire a hard time whenever he could, but still helped solve the crimes that popped up in his reservation, and in the rest of the county too. There’s grudging respect, for sure, but Mathais’s help always comes with a little effort on Longmire’s part.
As you can tell, the supporting characters drew me closer to the show than the protagonist. But, as the story unfolded, he wormed himself into my heart. Initially only because he was portrayed so wonderfully. Robert Taylor brought Walt Longmire to life in a way that seemed so effortless, I wonder if he’s a stoic in real life, or if he’s just that good. 🙂 For all my writerly friends, if you ever need inspiration on how to write a stoic character, watch Longmire. His micro expressions are fabulous. The range of emotions that flicker across his face with the twitch of an eyebrow or the movement of his eyes! It inspired me to write a stoic character.
Aside from the acting, though, there’s something about this small-town sheriff that demands your attention. Quietly, unobtrusively. You don’t even notice how much you’re rooting for this guy until something big happens, and you have that when did this even happen moment. As I said above somewhere, he’s not as close-minded as he seems. No, he doesn’t have a cell phone (hilarity ensues) and he doesn’t want to do things in any way but his, but he has some ideas that you don’t typically associate with the cowboy sheriff trope.
Additionally, he’s not always right, even if he thinks he knows better. There’s nothing so refreshing. Pretty much every cop show ever follows an officer with intuition – super-human intuition. If the protagonist has that feeling in his gut, even when he looks insane to everyone else, he’ll turn out to have been spot on in the end. The hero.
It doesn’t work that way with Longmire. He makes mistakes. Sometimes, his judgement is clouded by prejudice. You know, like a real human. And he has to learn to work through those prejudices.
Over the course of 6 seasons, this guy changes a lot. He learns and grows, deals with PTSD, goes off the rail sometimes, but evolves. Ultimately, this has cemented him in my mind as one of my all-time favourite characters.
The show also has one of the most satisfying endings I’ve ever watched. All the threads are tied, and you’re able to sigh in relief. This bunch will be okay.
I seriously consider this one of the best shows on television, and one of Netflix’s best works too. You know what to do this weekend. 🙂