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‘Fargo’ Creator on Why 1950s-Set Season 4 Is a Story About ‘Assimilation and Immigration’

Chris Rock-led fourth installment of FX anthology finally debuts Sunday

“Fargo” finally returns Sunday night for its long-awaited fourth installment, more than three years (plus an additional five months) after it last aired on FX.

“Fargo” creator Noah Hawley often says that he treats each edition of the anthology series based on the Coen Brothers’ 1996 movie as if it’s the last. After the third season, it really seemed like it was. “Every time I do one, I think it’s the last one,” Hawley Hawley told TheWrap, back in January, when the series was supposed to debut in April, before the coronavirus pandemic shut down production and forced a five-month delay. “And then some period of time passes, and I go ‘Oh, I could do that.'”

Hawley came up with an idea centered around the question of: What if two crime families traded their youngest sons as a fragile way to keep peace?

“I thought that that was interesting, and an interesting way to talk about assimilation and immigration,” Hawley continued. Year 4 of “Fargo” is also the furthest back in time the show travels, taking place in the 1950s. Hawley says that time period is no accident. “The time period got really vital to me,” Hawley says, describing it as “the end of what they call the two great migrations — of the Italians to America and African Americans up from the South.”

Chris Rock stars as Loy Cannon, the head of the Cannon Crime family, who trades his youngest son to Donatello Fadda (Tommaso Ragno), the head of the Italian mafia in Kansas City. In the “based on a true story” world of “Fargo,” this son-trading experiment has been going on for decades, though not always with happy results. TheWrap asked Hawley if the practice had any basis in historical reality.

“That’s just me under my, ‘This is a true story’ title, making things up,” he explained. “It’s almost biblical in a way and feels on some level, the ultimate deterrent. So you can believe that it could happen, which is all fiction ever really needs right?”

Although “Fargo” is an anthology series, the FX drama has made it clear over its first three seasons that the all the seasons exist within the same world.

That was most apparent in Season 2, when Patrick Wilson played a younger version of the Keith Carradine’s Lou Solverson from the first season.

In Season 4, Ben Whishaw plays a character named “Rabbi Milligan.” Viewers of Season 2 would remember that Bokeem Woodbine played a hitman named Mike Milligan for the Kansas City Mafia in their war against the Gerhardt crime family. Season 4 also takes place in Kansas City, set roughly 20 years earlier.

“It’s no coincidence that Ben Whishaw’s character is named ‘Milligan,'” Hawley said.

But as for how the two may be connected, Hawley wouldn’t say. However, he promised that any tie-ins to past seasons would be Easter eggs at most, like when Mr. Wrench (Russell Harvard) from Season 1 made a cameo appearance in Season 3. “We won’t hit it over the head,” Hawley said. “We showed the ‘Big Book of True Crime in the Midwest’ at a certain point in Season 2.” He said it’s very likely the story of Season 4 is written in that book.

The fourth installment of “Fargo” will now debut on Sunday, Sept. 27 at 10 p.m. ET/PT with back-to-back episodes directed by series creator Noah Hawley. Episodes hit FX on Hulu the following day. The next nine episodes of the 11-episode season will premiere each subsequent Sunday.