“He’s a college-educated man. So it’s an interesting occupation that he’s chosen to embark upon,” observes actor Glynn Turman about his character Doctor Senator in the fourth season of the FX anthology series “Fargo.” Doctor is the consigliere for an African-American crime syndicate who knows first-hand how elusive the American dream is for a Black man in 1950. Watch our exclusive video interview with Turman above.
Spun off from the Oscar-winning Coen Brothers film from 1996, “Fargo” continues to explore crime in the Midwest throughout the 20th century. This time around it’s the conflict between a Black-led criminal enterprise, Cannon Limited, and an Italian outfit, the Fadda Family. Both groups illustrate the limited opportunities in the US for marginalized ethnic groups and how hard they had to scrape for power and self-determination. “They indeed had to pay so much, pay such a high cost to grab that little corner of the American dream,” Turman explains.
And that’s certainly true of Doctor Senator, who has a PhD in economics but learned during his service in World War II how little his achievements mattered because of the color of his skin. In a memorable speech opposite his Italian consigliere counterpart, he recounts how he was used for his race and dismissed for his expertise. “I think that informed him as to, ‘What the hell? If I can’t get any higher than this with all that I’ve got, anything goes,'” which “set him on the path of least resistance.” If he couldn’t advance in America playing by the rules, crime was his next best option.
But that too is a trap. SPOILER ALERT: Doctor is killed midway through the season as tensions rise between the warring gangs. “The thing is, that character, Doctor Senator, basically stayed at the dance too long,” says Turman. “He was too slow, just age-wise, just in terms of keeping his guard up … I take it as a metaphor for knowing when to get out, and the point is, you can’t.” Now Turman is an Emmy contender for Best Movie/Limited Supporting Actor. He’s already an Emmy winner for his guest role in “In Treatment” in 2008, and his “Fargo” performance already earned him a Critics Choice nomination earlier this year. So there’s still one way for Doctor Senator to get justice.
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