The Conversation

'Justified' Called 'Justified' Because of Steven Seagal

In response to Quality entertainment vs. polemical shovels to the face:

I'll respond to the whole Conservative Art Thunderdome later, but a  point in response to John:

Justfied is called Justified because of Steven Seagal.  No, really.  The show was originally to be called "Lawman."  A great, simple title (so great and simple it occurred to me to me as such years ago and went into my mental diary of great titles). 

But Steven Seagal began a reality TV show documenting his exploits as a volunteer sheriff called Lawman.  So they had to change the title.  I believe "justified" refers to both the literal kinda-sorta justified shooting that gets Raylan sent to Harlan County, and his claims about all his subsequent shootings being "justified" (although some of them were a little shaky), and of course the various metaphors one can spin from that, as you suggest. 

I'm not sure if it was the original intent, or just suggested by the title (an accidental discovery), but the show has become largely about Boyd's and Raylan's self-justifications for the use of violence and criminality to protect themselves and "their own" (as they'd say in Harlan), and the thin line that separates Boyd's from Raylan's.  The fourth season began with this idea -- Raylan illegally (or, at least, contrary to his office's ethics) acting as bounty hunter -- and the argument between Boyd and Raylan in the finale, as well as Raylan's lawless solution to his problem, made that as explicit as it's ever been. 

I really do think this was an accidental discovery, something that occurred to them because they had to pick a new name because of Steven Seagal and "Justified" sounded sorta cool, so hey, given we've got this title, maybe we should make the show actually about that, huh?

The whole idea also works because the show is premised on anachronism-- it's the modern day, of course, but Boyd and Raylan and most of the people in Harlan aren't acting like it's the modern day.  They're all behaving as if it's 1871.  The Marshals' office and the cast there represent the modern age, but every time Raylan drives to Harlan he might as well be getting in the Tardis and time-traveling.

And 'round that time, in 1871, there really wasn't much difference between the lawman and the outlaw; Wyatt Earp might be a marshal in one county and a wanted fugitive (for murder) in another.  So they're really pushing that idea hard now,* that Boyd's self-justification, no matter how cynical -- that there's really not as much that separates him from Raylan as Raylan likes to think -- is closer to the truth than Raylan's self-justification.

 

*Wow, I forgot, the entire plot of the whole fourth season was about this: Drew Peterson, the marshal who became an outlaw who became a fugitive who became a sheriff.

Layers.

The show always had this Outlaw Justice tension, but this season it actually took Boyd's side.


advertisement

Send A Tip

Breitbart Video Picks

advertisement

advertisement

From Our Partners