Harlan as the Wild West- A Look at FX’s Justified

Justified (2010) is an American drama series that details the journey of Raylan Givens, a U.S. Marshal who returns to his hometown of Harlan, Kentucky where he finds more than he bargained for and an excess of new problems to tackle. Undeniably alluring to mainstream viewers, particularly following the success of similar smash hits showcasing a “different” brand of justice (The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, etc.) Justified can and should be looked at closely for the ways in which it represents the people of Appalachia to its viewership of over 1.8 million (Epstein, 2015). Like so many other Appalachian representations anchored towards mainstream audienes, the regions of Harlan County and Lexington fall into the canon of the cultural other, where lawlessness and violence reign. In many ways, these areas are used as something of a placeholder and more closely align with antiquated variations on the Wild West. Through a close look at the aesthetics of Justified I will illustrate the problematic nature of this contemporary representation of Appalachian for new audiences and how it has continued to solidify the region as apart from America- existing in a time period and region isolated from the laws and cultural norms that bind together the rest of the United States.