Lawmen: Bass Reeves Series Review - Binge Worthy Western Drama

The show is visually stunning, with its authentic depiction of the era's rugged landscapes and fraught societal tensions.

Lawmen: Bass Reeves western series on Paramount+ is it worth watching?
Lawmen: Bass Reeves (2023) - A must-watch western drama on Paramount+

In the sprawling canvas of television Westerns, Lawmen: Bass Reeves on Paramount+ emerges as a notable entrant. This series, an amalgamation of historical fiction and intense drama, takes us on a gripping journey through the life of the legendary Bass Reeves, portrayed with formidable depth by David Oyelowo. Crafted not from history books but inspired by Sidney Thompson's novels, this series transcends mere storytelling to become a thought-provoking exploration of themes like justice, freedom, and the complexities of human nature.

At its core, Lawmen: Bass Reeves is more than a mere retelling of the life of the first Black deputy U.S. marshal west of the Mississippi River. It is a profound study of a man grappling with the contradictions of his time—a former slave enforcing laws made by those who once enslaved him. Oyelowo's Bass Reeves is not your archetypal Western hero; he is a man of guile, caution, and deep emotional resonance, forced to navigate the moral ambiguities of a post-Reconstruction America.

David Oyelowo playing first black US Deputy Marshal Bass Revees in Lawmen: Bass Reeves (2023) Paramount+

The creators, including Chad Feehan, Christina Alexandra Voros, and Damian Marcano, deserve applause for their meticulous recreation of the 1870s American West.

The show is visually stunning, with its authentic depiction of the era's rugged landscapes and fraught societal tensions. Each of the eight episodes is a testament to the painstaking attention to detail that makes the series a tactile and immersive experience.

However, Lawmen: Bass Reeves is not without its challenges. The series, at times, leans heavily into its dramatic elements, occasionally overshadowing the potential for a more nuanced exploration of Reeves's character. The latter half of the season, in particular, tends to overemphasize Reeves's moral dilemmas, risking a one-dimensional portrayal of an otherwise complex character. Despite this, Oyelowo’s performance remains compelling throughout, anchoring the series with his nuanced interpretation of Reeves.

The supporting cast, including Lauren E. Banks and Demi Singleton as Reeves’s wife and daughter, respectively, brings a much-needed warmth and depth to the narrative. Their performances, particularly in the domestic scenes, offer a poignant counterpoint to the series' more intense moments, highlighting the personal cost of Reeves's life choices.

Bass Reeves with his wife Jennie Reeves in Lawmen: Bass Reeves (2023) Paramount+ series.

The series does not shy away from the harrowing realities of its historical setting, particularly the racial oppression prevalent in post-Reconstruction America.

These elements are handled with sensitivity and intelligence, providing a stark reminder of the era's brutal injustices.

Lawmen: Bass Reeves strikes a delicate balance between historical accuracy and creative storytelling. While it may tread into melodramatic territory at times, the series remains a compelling watch, thanks to its strong performances, stunning visuals, and the fascinating life story at its center.

For those intrigued by the complexities of American history, particularly the untold stories of African-American heroes, Lawmen: Bass Reeves is a must-watch. Its blend of action, drama, and historical significance makes it a standout series, offering a fresh perspective on a genre often mired in clichés. Oyelowo’s portrayal of Reeves is a powerful reminder of the enduring human spirit in the face of adversity, making Lawmen: Bass Reeves a worthy addition to the pantheon of great Western dramas.