Verdict: Pretty Good
How much I’ve seen: All of it (four seasons)
You should watch it if you like: Any cop drama, but especially if you like The Shield or Luther.
Where you can stream it: Seasons 1 and 2 are free with Amazon Prime. The other 2 seasons are on Amazon streaming, but not free.
I remember first hearing about Banshee in the New York City subway tunnels. Their ads were unlike anything I’d seen on a movie or tv poster before. The image above was plastered everywhere when the first season debuted. I saw it was on Cinemax and pretty much completely forgot about it until some time last year, when my family was talking about it because it takes place in Pennsylvania and part of it was filmed near where my great uncle lives.
Since it’s a skinemax original, I was expecting it to be sexy. And it is. But more importantly than that I think it’s probably the single most violent TV show I’ve ever seen. What’s really shocking about that to me is that while there’s the gun violence you’d expect from a cop drama, the really violent stuff is mostly just people beating the ever loving hell out of each other. There’s plenty of cartoony nonsense violence, too, but the melee is so visceral even I had a hard time with some of it.
The premise of the show is fairly interesting: a thief gets out of prison after 16 years and goes looking for his ex-girlfriend. On his way into Banshee, PA the recently hired sheriff who hasn’t even been sworn in yet gets murdered by the Amish mafia (yes, you read that right), and the thief ends up covering up the sheriff’s murder and assuming his identity.
If the ludicrousness of that idea hasn’t made you roll your eyes and dismiss the show, and the idea of brutal violence doesn’t put you off, definitely check out Banshee. It’s not the greatest show I’ve ever seen, but it’s sexy and violent and occasionally a little goofy. All in all, it’s pretty fun. And the first two seasons are free.