Why Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s ‘Fargo’ Accent Isn’t From Fargo

The accents employed by the people of “Fargo” are an evolutionary adaptation against loneliness: flat, inoffensive tones with occasionally chirpy vowels, reminiscent of bird calls, to lull neighbors into feeling neighborly. It’s not how Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s Nikki Swango talks at all. Winstead’s Swango, the bridge-master parolee instigator of “Fargo” Season 3, is from Chicago. It’s pretty normal for “Fargo” to take place outside of “Fargo” — it covers pretty much the entire region covered by the North Dakota-Minnesota accent. But Chicagoans had no need to adopt it. They’ve historically been bounded together so tightly that that they never needed of “Minnesota Nice,” the consciously exaggerated cheeriness of their Great Lakes neighbors to the Northwest. In such close quarters, they rely on strategy and guile.