‘Fargo’ heading to St. Cloud with Ewan McGregor

The investigation deepens as Fargo, Season 2 continues.

Fargo’s second season followed the excitement back in time to Minnesota’s western prairies. The new season is headed for St. Cloud in the year 2010, according to showrunner Noah Hawley.

St. Cloud sits at the center of Minnesota like a spleen. What’s a spleen for? Probably something, right? Whatever it is, you’d have to take a college class to know for sure.

St. Cloud is one of the regional centers of the state. Yet, unlike Minneapolis, St. Paul, Rochester, Mankato or Duluth, Minnesotans have a tough time describing St. Cloud to the outside world. It’s a city. It’s in Minnesota. It’s near the farming part of the state. Grandpa goes there to get his V.A. hearing aid. And …

Lake Wobegon is near there, according to Garrison Keillor. Though Lake Wobegon is fictional I find this plausible. Perhaps St. Cloud is fictional, too?

St. Cloud State University is pretty big. I know lots of people who went there. Most of them lost their memories to an alcohol fog. Meanwhile St. Benedict’s and St. John’s grads seem to remember their time there, but always seem to stress that their campuses were a few miles away.

Of course, I’ve been to St. Cloud. It happens eventually to most Minnesotans, like plantar fasciitis or sunburn. The first time you go there you get lost in the city’s bizarre streetscape. The second time you go there … I’ll let you know. Maybe it’s better now that people have smartphones. They say the people are nice once they get out of their cars.

All of this makes St. Cloud fertile ground for the next season of the FX show “Fargo,” the crime noir TV series based on the renowned film by Minnesotans Joel and Ethan Coen. “Fargo” show-runner Noah Hawley told MPR’s “Aw Jeez” podcast that “Fargo” Season 3 will take place in and around St. Cloud. We’ve also learned that the show will feature actor Ewan McGregor portraying two characters, a pair of brothers, at the center of the plot.

This season will be set in 2010, shortly after the timeline of Season 1, which centered on Bemidji and Duluth. Season 2 was set in 1979 in Luverne, Minnesota, and Fargo, North Dakota. The general rules of the “Fargo” universe is that something violent and mysterious happens in a seemingly benign place within a day’s drive of Fargo, typically in Minnesota.

From MPR:

Hawley said that the Minnesota he presents in the show isn’t meant to be the real Minnesota.

“The job that I’ve been given is not to recreate Minnesota as it exists, but to recreate it as it existed in the movie [“Fargo”], which I saw as respectful portrait with a certain comic aspect to it.”

Of course, MinnesotaBrown was the first to offer detailed Minnesota-specific reviews of “Fargo” during the show’s first season and I’ve blogged every episode. I’ve been eclipsed in Google rankings by others since, but I like to think I’m offering an authentic-yet-witty rural Minnesota perspective on the series. This will continue for Season 3, which starts shooting this November in Canada for its April 2017 premier.


  1. I lived briefly in the St. Cloud area in the early 2000s, and the word on the Street was that Lake Wobegone was actually Avon, MN, a very small town just west of St. John’s University in Collegeville. This makes sense if you consider that Garrison Keillor and MPR both started at St. John’s University in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

  2. I lived in St. Joe Minnesota in 1962-63 and 1963-64 while I was a studio art instructor at St John’s University, which was just three miles away. Back then my car was serviced in town by Krebsbach Chevrolet….a name very important for Prairie Home Companion. I even married a girl from St Ben’s…the women’s college in town. And, when I went back in 1991 as a visiting artist for three weeks, I often had a meal at Kay’s Cafe in town, which I was told was the model for the Chatterbox Cafe. And then there was dear friend Joe O’Connell, liturgical sculptor there in the 1960’s who, a few years later became close friends
    with Garrison. Visiting back in 1991, Wow! You could feel the connections……Joe was also always a great storyteller! All Lake Wobegon feelings, something in the air going way back to my time there, even before Garrison. It all comes back for me when he does his monologue. Much cherished.

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