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TV is at a point where seemingly more high-quality shows exist now than there were total TV shows 20 years ago. As such, viewers need to spend their time wisely, and the wise ones should definitely be tuned into USA's new neo-western drama Damnation, which takes audiences back to the Great Depression for a relatively complex and layered look at one of our country's most harrowing economic collapses. Lest that sound boring to anyone, it's also a blood-soaked tale of rebellion, manipulation and questionable patriotism.
Damnation recently debuted on USA, where Mr. Robot has earned the network's most widespread acclaim in years, and the western managed to bring in a bigger audience than the tech-based drama did with its own recent premiere. Having seen the first four episodes, I present three spoiler-free reasons why Damnation's audience should be getting bigger and bigger each week, since this is a show that everyone should be watching.
It's A Proper Successor To Justified And Deadwood
Though the western genre was all the rage in the first half of the 20th century (and then some), TV viewers don't get a whole lot of new projects adhered to that period aesthetic. But even with its "Iowa in the 1930s" setting, Damnation still feels like a story plucked from the Wild West and given a slight makeover. Creator Tony Tost has been a writer and producer for the similarly dusty drama Longmire, so it makes a ton of sense that Damnation is such a fantastic neo-western successor to FX's Justified and HBO's Deadwood, even without Timothy Olyphant as part of the main cast.
Fitting with the former, the show boasts a pair of men sharing a deep relationship despite being polar opposites, and Damnation matches up with the latter by way of its brothels, violence and use of the word "cocksucker." (USA does not get strict with the censorship in the least, so keep the kids' ears covered.) Even though Justified didn't end so long ago, we're still waiting for its potential future return, and our anticipation is even bigger for the in-the-works Deadwood TV movie. But even if neither one of those returns happens for a while, at least Damnation is here to soothe our parched imaginations.
Logan Marshall-Green And Killian Scott Are So Good
24 and The O.C. vet Logan Marshall-Green is probably best known now for Spider-Man: Homecoming and Quarry, and U.S. audiences likely know Killian Scott best for his work in Ripper Street. But they should become household names after Damnation, as they are endlessly watchable in their respective roles. Don't get me wrong, Melinda Page Hamilton is great as a mysterious cross-country killer, as is Chasten Harmon as the book-reading prostitute Bessie, but Damnation is the story of Creeley Turner vs. Seth Davenport, so it helps that both leads are so damned watchable in the roles.
Logan Marshall-Green plays Creeley Turner, a ruthless and morally unhinged strikebreaker hired to do whatever it takes to end a small town uprising. (And it's clear from the get-go how far Creeley is willing to take his duties.) On the flip side, Killian Scott plays the well-spoken and rabble-rousing Seth Davenport, who poses as a preacher in order to gain townsfolk support in an attempt to bring economic justice to local farmers and other hardworking citizens. Oh, and those two characters also happen to have a much bigger history than anyone suspects.
The Central Story Is Extremely Relevant
For period dramas (or comedies) to become fully rounded series, there's usually a need for the narrative to give viewers something that they can relate to in the modern age, by way of thematic focus and characters' ideals. Not many shows would use the Depression as a time setting, but Damnation's emphasis on the economy tells the kind of story that most Americans will find all too familiar.
Small town workers are fighting back against an establishment that has far more interest in paddings its capitalist pockets than in helping everyone reach the American Dream, and one man is using unpolished rhetoric to liven up the crowd. Meanwhile, an outsider is coming in to divert attention and squash the issue by causing a big ruckus. Plus, there is a group of white supremacists occasionally making things uncomfortable for everyone. Damnation is basically 2017 in a locally farmed nutshell.
Those were just three reasons to watch Damnation, but the list doesn't really stop there. (Another one would be: it's co-produced by Netflix, which has global streaming rights, so we'll hopefully be guaranteed more seasons.) You'll just have to find out all the other reasons to watch by tuning into USA every Tuesday night at 10:00 p.m. ET. To see what other new and returning shows are yet to premiere in 2017, head to our fall TV premiere schedule.