5 Reasons to Binge the Sundance Channel's Hap & Leonard
1- No one writes the South quite like Joe R. Lansdale. I may be biased because I consider Joe a friend. No, I won’t apologize. It’s still the truth. Very few writers are willing to go into the dark places that actually exist within people and the towns they call home. Joe dives head first into those shadows. Damn the consequences. For example, he deals with racism with a blunt, in your face realism, that’s necessary. Especially now. Far too many people tiptoe around the topic or skirt it entirely now. Joe makes you confront just how messed up people can be. With a lead character that’s not only black but gay, Joe’s Hap & Leonard series lets us see life in the fictional East Texas town of LaBorde with raw unrelenting clarity. His Hap & Leonard mystery novel series is fantastic, and this show does the novels justice.
2- Why does the show do the novels justice when so few shows manage that? I give a ton of credit to Writer/Directors Jim Mickle and Nick Damici. The dynamic tandem developed the series for Sundance, and it’s not their first foray into the world/head of Joe Lansdale. Both men worked together on the feature film adaptation for Joe’s Cold In July in 2014. If you haven’t seen that film, you need to rectify that. It stars Michael C. Hall and the late great Sam Shepard. A MUST see. Anyway, thanks to such a strong relationship with Joe, and an ear for how Joe tells a story, these two men have brought the novels to life perfectly in this series. No small feat.
3- THE CAST! Season one alone features three of the most underrated actors in “the biz” today. The two leads, James Purefoy and Michael Kenneth Williams are flawless in these roles. If you don’t believe me about them being underrated check out Purefoy in “Solomon Kane” and “Rome” and Williams in “The Wire” and “Boardwalk Empire.” You won’t be sorry. The third aforementioned actor is Jimmi Simpson. This man steals every scene he’s in and kills it as the first season's main antagonist. Check out more of Jimmi in “Westworld” and “Breakout Kings.” Purefoy and Williams fit into their characters like old gloves. You can feel the actors losing themselves in the relationship between Hap & Leonard as the seasons progress, and by season three it’s impossible to see these two men as anything other than brothers.
4- The Dialogue! God damn, it’s good. Having amazing novels to work from, with a writer that knows how to write dialogue, certainly helps, but the writers knock the voices in this series out of the park. The dialogue is authentic, vicious, biting, unfiltered, and even hilarious at times. Nothing makes a show sing like great dialogue. It helps us believe the characters are “real”, and allows us to immerse ourselves in their reality. When dialogue comes out stunted and forced, you lose any desire to hear what the characters have to say. Realistic relationships never build between the characters on screen, and completely alienate the viewer. This show doesn’t have to worry about any of that.
5- The Stories! Every season is riveting from start to finish. Compacted into six episodes each, there’s absolutely no filler in this show. They get to the point, build to riveting climaxes, and wrap up with satisfying endings. Season One finds Hap & Leonard looking for money that ended up in a river following a bank robbery. Hal’s trouble-magnet of an ex-wife leads he and Leonard into the path of a psychopathic murderous couple, with devastating results. Season Two finds them trying to clear Leonard’s name for a murder he didn’t commit, as a serial killer preys on young black boys. The only way to clear Leonard may be to take down the real killers. Season Three has Hap & Leonard travel to a town that’s run by the Ku Klux Klan, in search of their black friend and lawyer, Ms.Florida Grange. They’ll discover a fear they’d never imagined.
Behind the Scenes
More Talented Writers on This Great Series
Ione Lloyd, John Wirth, Abe Sylvia, E.L. Katz, and Pam Veasey