Justified changes the way we watch cop shows

It’s clear from the first few minutes of FX’s newest show, “Justified,” that Raylen Givens is no ordinary U.S Marshall.  Aside from the fact that he’s working in Miami and wearing a cowboy hat, he has just given a criminal 24 hours to leave the city.  Twenty four hours for a would-be-convict seems awfully fair of Raylen… it’s just a shame this criminal called his bluff.

Our story really begins after Raylen confronts this Miami based criminal.  To save face, he is relocated to Kentucky (his home town) after his confrontation.  Unlike most cop shows that have a setting of a big city (New York, Miami, Las Vegas and L.A seem to be the popular locations) the setting of “Justified” is Kentucky from this point on.  As a naive New Yorker myself, I said to myself “what kind of crime is there in Kentucky” and the show answers my question.  The show takes all of your preconceived notions about the state famous for horse racing and throws them out the window.  Within only a few minutes of being back in his home state, Raylen is presented with a criminal that is a white supremacist.  And guess what?  He used to play in the tunnels with this out-law when he was a kid.

Raylen Givens is played by Timothy Olyphant.  While Givens is a tough-as-nails character, he doesn’t need to be covered in scars, playing with a razor blade or wearing layers or leather to prove this point.  It’s in the way he doesn’t flinch at a swastika tattoo, the way he can ease the nerves of a woman who just shot her abusive husband, and in the way he can convince a man pointing a shotgun at him to put it down and be on his way.  He’s a classic “quiet but strong” lawman, even though there is nothing quiet about his actions.  Olyphant is the perfect Raylen Givens and plays him with a ruggedness that is reminiscent of Clint Eastwood.

FX presents a viewer discretion warning before the show, as they do with most of their shows.  I’m not immune to action, language and violence but did I wince when a church was blown up by men wearing swastikas?  Yup.  The action and violence in this show is edgy and intense.  It’s not the type of show that you can look away from or watch without widening your eyes.

There’s definitely a lot more in store for this show.  From the previews of the next few episodes we will see relationships, chaos, exciting criminals and confrontations galore.  I’m curious to see where this show goes, but one thing is certain, this is no ordinary cop show.


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