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Families make good TV drama. The complex tensions and loyalties that exist between family members make for interesting storytelling, and if their bonds serve to unite the family against everyone else, so much the better.
From The Sopranos' Sopranos to the Wests of Outrageous Fortune, television audiences have eagerly followed stories of families united against the world. Now Outsiders (new to Sky's Neon online streaming service), gives us the Farrells.
The Farrells are Kentucky mountain folk. They punch each other in the head for fun. They live off the land and don't believe in money. They brew alcoholic spirit so powerful it'll make you stab your dad for no reason.
Their wedding ceremony resembles a game of bullrush. They settle disputes via the traditional medium of the ''pit fight'', which is a kind of quad bike jousting. They are viewed by the rest of society with disdain, but also a kind of nervous awe.
Asa Farrell (Joe Anderson) is an outsider among outsiders. As the series begins, he has returned to the mountain after being away for 10 years. Where he has been and why he has returned are mysteries, but it has something to do with some wolves having told him not to kill himself.
On his return he is punished and shunned as a deserter, and must fight for the right to rejoin his clan. He apparently has the support of the clan's current bren'in (leader), Lady Ray (Phyllis Somerville), but faces opposition from her heir apparent, the imposing Big Foster Farrell VI (David Morse). Further complicating Asa's return is the tension between him and his third cousin and old flame, the beautiful and feisty G'Winveer (Gillian Alexy).
The clan, however, may need all the help it can get in the struggle to come. An energy company is determined to remove the ''bunch of, excuse me, retard hillbilly animals'' from their ancestral home so it can mine the mountain for coal and the inhabitants of the nearby town, desperate for jobs, are inclined to support the eviction.
Deputy Sheriff Wade Houghton (Thomas M. Wright) is tasked with spearheading the eviction, but he is adamant the Farrells will never be convinced to leave their home.
His family has a history with them. They are not like you and me. To be perfectly frank, he doesn't think the mining company has any idea what it is dealing with.
Outsiders is engaging drama interspersed with breathtaking aerial footage of the Appalachian mountains. I must also acknowledge it for one of the most creatively sudden and violent deaths I've seen in television (two words: bear trap), but the story is interesting despite its fairly regular violence. I'm only four episodes in, but I'll be coming back now, y'hear?
-by C. Tilley and H. Turner