Andrew Klavan thinks so. That sounds right. When I found out a friend doesn’t watch Justified I always tell them that it’s good enough to be an HBO show.
The main competitor in crime shows would be HBO’s Boardwalk Empire. You can just look at Boardwalk and tell it has a bigger budget. The camera work is better. It’s more self-consciously artistic. It’s a good show, but not as enjoyable for me personally. Boardwalk is mostly about power relationships between the characters, few of whom are sympathetic, much less heroic.
Justifed is better at drawing you into the characters, good and bad, and some of them are people you actually like. I care about what happens to Raylan Givens. If Nucky Thompson gets killed on Boardwalk, well, that’s why there’s no retirement homes for old gangsters. Son of a bitch had it coming anyway.
Here’s another big difference. When Justified rolls credits I can’t wait for the next week’s episode. With Boardwalk I just don’t get the same thrill.