Spoiler warning: This article contains mild spoilers for the podcast S-Town, so if you want to stay spoiler free you better scurry back inside that maze, stat.
If you're here, that probably means that you've finished listening to the seven-hour ear-treat that was #STown, a podcast whose half-filled piss cup overflowed with brilliant and bizarre anecdotes courtesy of its star, John B. McLemore. It also means that you were so engrossed with its captivating narrative that you just want more, goddammit!
Hailing from This American Life and Serial, S-Town not only painted a stunning portrait McLemore's life and the characters in it, but it contained everything a person could ask for in a good story: a murder investigation, a potential cover-up, love, friendship, fallouts, theft, a full back tattoo, a maze, a passion for antique clocks, and a butt-load of hidden gold. And wouldn't you agree that all these things not only make for a great podcast, but for a potentially even greater TV series or movie? I certainly would!
So, say that the Hollywood overlords heard this plea, who could star in such an adaptation? Join us as we ponder the faces who could portray the podcast's leading characters:
Brian Reed — John Gemberling
You'll most likely know John Gemberling from Comedy Central's LOLathon, Broad City, where he stars as Abbi's non-flatmate-cum-permanent fixture, Bevers. While his role in the series is mostly being a pain in her ass, stealing all her food and throwing away Bed Bath & Beyond coupons, I feel like he deserves a chance in the spotlight. On top of his resemblance to Brian Reed — S-Town's investigative journalist and narrator, Gemberling has the unassuming aura one would need to squirrel his way into an Alabama society without attracting too much attention. Plus, y'anno, it's Bevers.
John B. McLemore — Michael Cudlitz
Michael Cudlitz was arguably one of the best things about The Walking Dead before Negan smashed his face in with a baseball bat, but he could be THE best thing about S-Town, should he bag the lead role as John B.
His aesthetic is pretty much perfect: that hair, those chops, and that frown all scream, "Howdy, welcome to Shit Town." And can't you just imagine him pruning the maze, gold-coating dimes and twiddlin' that grand tash as he quick-fired expletives in a prime Alabama drawl, worrying about climate change, government corruption and everything in between? Yeah, so can I, probably because we've heard him shit on life before, and we know that he's pretty darn good at it:
For reference, here's what the real John B. looked like:
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Tyler Goodson — Theo Rossi
Aside from pulling off mad tatts like a pro, Sons of Anarchy's Theo Rossi is not only in the right age bracket to play John B.'s kind-of-but-not-son in an S-Town adaptation, but you know from watching him in the FX series that he's a very handy guy to have around. His character, Juan the "Juice," was not only super technical — which would be needed for helping build those basement cells and what have you — but also pretty simple minded. He was a sweet guy that never really deserved the reality he was handed, which is similar to Tyler's situation: meaning well but going about things in the wrong way and generally finding himself lumped in the shit.
Mary Grace — Grace Zabriskie
Grace Zabriskie is probably known the best for her various roles in David Lynch productions such as Twin Peaks and Wild at Heart, and 2004's American adaptation of The Grudge — performances that would only enhance her portrayal of John B.'s mother, Mary Grace. In the first episode of S-Town we learn that Mary Grace has suffered from Alzheimer's for seven years and, after his death, is left confused, homeless and unsure whom to trust. It would take an experienced, tactful actress to portray such a character, and Grace Zabriskie is such a woman.
Plus they've both got Grace in their names — fate? I think so.
Olan Long — Peter Scolari
Can you think of a better guy than Peter Scolari to portray Olan Long, the romantic interest John B. met on a hotline, way before Tinder and OkCupid became a thing? He'd be perfect for multiple reasons! Firstly, we know through his role as Hannah's pa in Girls that he's a sensitive soul who, similarly to Olan, discovered connections with Brokeback Mountain later on in life. Secondly, he has excellent posture, which is handy considering Olan is an ex-military man that still carries himself as such. Thirdly, how easy is it to picture Scolari reaching over and tickling Michael Cutliz's red, furry tum? SO easy!
Rita & Charlie — Annie Golden & Stephen Graham
Rita, John B.'s cousin and her husband Charlie seem like devils in shoddy disguise when you're first introduced to them, an assumption that's quickly turned on its head episodes later on discovering that not only is Rita a reasonable human, but she's pretty sweet too. Discounting the whole "eh, let's just chop his nipples off," bit, of course.
When I think of Rita in my mind's eye, I picture someone like Orange Is the New Black's Annie Golden, a silent observer that stays the hell away until shit needs to get done. And for her husband, I pick Stephen Graham, because he's awesome and should be in everything. He can also do a slammin' American accent, as anyone who watched Boardwalk Empire will know.
Faye Gamble — Olivia Colman
Another actress that should always be in the spotlight; Olivia Coleman may be British and yes, we have no idea whether she'd be able to own the dialect, but let's take a gamble, shall we. Yes, we should. And anyway, do you really need convincing that she'd be an excellent choice to play Faye Gamble, Woodstock's town clerk? No, you don't — but I'll explain it to you anyway.
Coleman is versatile, which she proved through roles in Peep Show, Fleabag, Broadchurch, Tyrannosaur and The Night Manager, starring as characters that range from a borderline psychotic step-mom, to a fragile, beaten house-wife, to a sassy AF cop. And these are all traits an actress would need when portraying S-Town's Faye, who may or may not have been on the phone to John B. when he committed suicide; who may or may not have nabbed all his freezer-gold ; who may or may not have intentionally omitted news of his death to all of his friends, for some mystery reason. Wouldn't you agree?
Boozer Downs — Paul Giamatti
A solid name like Boozer Downs (John B.'s small-town lawyer) deserves solid representation, IMO. Paul Giamatti is such a solid guy. Not only does he look like a lawyer most of the time, whether intentional or not, but he's actually already portrayed a small-town attorney in the 2011 movie Win Win, so he would need like, zero jargon training. And that, friends, is a WIN WIN.
Jake Goodson — Josh McDermitt
Another role that requires artistic sensitivity is that of Tyler Goodson's brother, Jake, who suffers from a brain injury after taking a bullet to the skull, which drastically affects his ability to communicate. Josh McDermitt could not only pass as a relative of Theo Rossi — who we've cast as Tyler — but we know from his portrayal of Eugene in The Walking Dead that he's the kind of actor who can command an audience without saying very much.
I also just want to see more of that mullet, tbh.
'True Detective' Cameos
Let's be real, Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey need to be in this series too, not just because of their accents and their unrivaled ability to wear (and, more importantly, pull off) a cowboy hat, but because they are True Detectives — which is what this case needs if we're ever going to get to the bottom of what happened to that gold, don't you agree?!
Who do you think should star in an S-Town adaptation?