‘The American Old West’ is often romaticized as this anarchic, chaotic frontier in popular American culture, with the image of the gun-slinging, horse-riding, tobacco-chewing cowboy as its perfect, wholesome representation. Contemporary media was particularly instrumental in this romanticization of the Western United States primarily due to the delayed English settlements (19th and 20th century). This period of mass settlement encouraged by President Thomas Jefferson, clubbed with the media’s aggressive sensationalization enabled the idea of the ‘Western’ into popular culture. As the American frontier past into history, through its numerous and repeated representations in comic books, films and children’s toys, the myths of the West took a firm hold in the imagination of people all over the globe.
Westerns are still an extremely prevalent genre of motion picture, with additional money being poured into it by streaming giants such as Amazon, HBO and Netflix. With the rejuvenation of the television format, several TV series are continuously exploring and expanding the genre of ‘Westerns’. Recurring characters and plot structures of this genre essentially trace out the ‘Otherness’ in the vast plains and deserts laden Western frontier in its relation to the rest of the United States, by upholding the lawless, harsh, wild nature of it. Some of these characters include bandits, bounty hunters, Native Americans, outlaws and gamblers. The background score usually includes American and Mexican folk music such as country, New Mexico music, and rancherras.
Netflix Inc is a modern day streaming giant, founded in 1997 by Reed Hastings and Marc Randolph in Scotts Valley, California. With over 139 million subscriptions as of January 2019, Netflix enjoys a massive worldwide presence and has since become a part of popular dialect (“Netflix and Chill”, anyone). Since 2012, Netflix has taken an active part in the previously unexplored territory of original content, giving rise to ‘Netflix Originals’. Some of the biggest names of the film industry such as Alfonso Cuaron, David Fincher, Martin Scorsese, amongst others have collaborated with Netflix. Both television and cinematic content of the ever evolving Western genre have found numerous inclusions in the library. So, here’s the list of really good Western shows on Netflix that are available to stream right now:
10. The Pinkertons (2014)
Founded by Scotsman, Alan Pinkerton in the United States way back in 1850, the ‘Pinkerton National Detective Agency’ is a private security guard and detective agency, currently a subsidiary of Securitas AB. The agency’s initial rise to fame was when they foiled an apparent assassination attempt on one president-elect Abraham Lincoln. Later on, during the Civil War, Pinkerton agents were hired by Lincoln for his personal security. The eponymous TV show ‘The Pinkertons’ is a Canadian Western police procedural TV series which features authentic crime cases of the Pinkerton Detective Agency, with use of its archives (case files) dating back to the 1860s. Produced by ‘Rosetta Media’ and ‘Buffalo Gal Pictures’, this broadcast syndicated TV show was announced in April 2014. With the whole juxtaposition of the detective motion picture genre in the iconic American ‘Old West’, ‘The Pinkertons’ can prove to be an interesting watch over the weekend. It is currently up for streaming on ‘Netflix”.
9. The West (1996)