Westerns ruled American television at one point, during the 1950s-1970s, but since then their predominance has significantly declined. However, considering the fact that the Western is the only original American genre, its influence on American culture has been immense, and remnants of the same can easily be seen everywhere.
‘Longmire’ is a TV series that has kept alive the tradition of western shows on American television. The series centers around the eponymous sheriff of Absaroka County who tackles tough criminals, one after the other, and also deals with major problems in his personal life. Although ‘Longmire’ is a western TV series, it has clear influences of a modern-day crime drama. If you have enjoyed watching ‘Longmire’, here are some other shows you might want to check out. Many of them are available on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime.
7. Deadwood (2004-2006)
Created by David Milch, ‘Deadwood’ is a western TV series that centers around the eponymous town and the many different people living there. Many have come here to become rich, but some have taken to a life of crime in order to increase their influence and wealth. The show mainly revolves around three characters- Wild Bill Hickok, Seth Bullock, and Al Swearengen.
While the first two are on opposite sides of the law, Swearengen is the most powerful man in town. Intense performances and an unabashed portrayal of a frontier town have made ‘Deadwood’ a show worth checking out.
6. Godless (2017)
‘Godless‘ is a seven-part Netflix miniseries created by acclaimed screenwriter Scott Frank. The central character of the series is an outlaw called Roy Goode who has escaped after betraying the members of his former gang. We witness the leader of the said gang, Frank Griffin, leading his men to the town of La Belle, New Mexico where Goode is hiding.
Will the inhabitants of La Belle be able to protect the guest from the onslaught of the murderers who are about to invade their town? A female-led story of grit and violence, ‘Godless’ is a fresh take on the western genre.
5. Hell On Wheels (2011-2016)
After the Civil War, the American government started building railroad tracks to facilitate better connectivity within the country. The entire collection of people, who gathered to make a living off each such area where railroads were being built, traveled together almost like a gypsy group.
The series ‘Hell On Wheels‘ centers around the adventures of a former Confederate soldier, as he moves along with one such band of workers. The series offers a deep portrayal of the aftereffects of the war and shows us how it shaped the American mindset to a large extent.
4. Gunsmoke (1955-1975)
One of the most iconic shows in the history of American television, ‘Gunsmoke’ became a part and parcel of American life for two decades straight. Chronicling the life of Marshal Matt Dillon, ‘Gunsmoke’ first started off as a radio series and then made its way to the television on CBS. One of the best shows of all time, ‘Gunsmoke’ has often been referred to as the quintessential American epic, at par in influence and significance with the Greek legends of ‘Iliad’ and ‘Odyssey’.
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3. The Rifleman (1958-963)
Just like ‘Longmire’, ‘The Rifleman’ is a series centered around one man’s efforts to keep his jurisdiction safe from the clutches of troublemakers. The protagonist of this series, Lucas McCain, is a former Union soldier who now lives in the fictional town of North Folk with his son.
Besides being a tale about a western town, ‘The Rifleman’ also addresses questions regarding morality and redemption, through one’s reformed actions in life. The Winchester Model 1892 rifle which McCain uses in the series became a hugely popular cultural icon when the show was aired.
2. Laramie (1959-1963)
The NBC series ‘Laramie’ centers around two brothers, Slim and Andy Sherman who have opened up a stagecoach shop along with a drifter and are also trying to protect the ranch they have inherited after their father’s murder. However, a major discovery on their ranch makes the Sherman brothers aware of how their father was wrongly accused of being a Confederate sympathizer.
This prompts Jess Harper, co-owner of their shop, to set out on a journey in order to clear their father’s name. Besides being a highly influential show with evocative characters, ‘Laramie’ also shows us the immense hatred which persisted in American society even years after the end of the Civil War.
1. Lancer (1968-1970)
Made famous by Quentin Tarantino in his 2019 masterpiece ‘Once Upon A Time In Hollywood‘, ‘Lancer’ is a CBS original series revolving around the struggles of the eponymous family headed by one Murdoch Lancer. In order to keep their ranch functional, the Lancers often have to deal with outlaws and miscreants, and this is what the show’s main focus is.
Murdoch’s youngest son, who grew up away from the family with the name Johnny Madrid, is one of the best riflemen around, and he takes on anyone who is out to cause any harm to his family or his father’s property. The best aspect of the series is that here each of the characters has got a well-rounded backstory which helps us empathize with their struggles to a large extent.
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