If you aren’t acquainted with Walt Longmire, then perhaps you should be.
And maybe you don’t know what you’ve been missing.
The modern-day sheriff of the fictional Absaroka County in Wyoming, Walt is the hero of the Longmire series of books, which is also a highly-rated series on A&E.
Or it was a highly-rated series on A&E, until the geniuses at the network decided to cancel it.
But for now, you still have the books to read.
And what an outstanding set of books they are!
This past week, I had the rare pleasure and opportunity to meet Craig Johnson, a fellow, native-born West Virginian and author of the Longmire series.
Speaking at a literary event in Charleston, West Virginia, Mr. Johnson had the crowd eating out of his hand. He is a friendly and engaging individual, and quite possibly one of the most entertaining speakers I’ve ever heard.
And after having penned this series, which placed a number of its books on the New York Times Bestseller List, Johnson would have every reason to let his literary successes go to this head. But that clearly isn’t the case.
Craig Johnson is smart, humble, and personable, traits which are much the same as the lead character in his books.
Perhaps more than at any other point in my lifetime, America is a nation in search of a hero.
Craig Johnson has given us one.
Despite the fact he’s living in a modern age, Walt Longmire is very much the typical Western hero, stoic and upright. He’s also loyal, strong, and brave. But along with all of those qualities, Walt is also a broken man, still grieving over the tragic death of his wife.
In the books, Walt has been forced to solve a number of murder mysteries, aided by some of the most compelling and well-drawn characters in American literature, his friends and co-workers, such as Deputy Victoria Moretti, and his lifelong friend, Henry Standing Bear.
Walt is always there for them. And they are there for him as well.
For too many years, we have been routinely subjected to morally-ambiguous figures, protagonists who have no clearly-defined set of values.
Walt Longmire is different.
Perhaps that is why Longmire has struck such a chord with the American people.
Walt appeals to the best instincts in us all.
Many of us are increasingly sick and tired of this pop culture world, a place which seeks to give us phony, vulgar, ill-mannered, and narcissistic heroes such as Miley Cyrus, Kim Kardashian and Justin Beiber.
Perhaps that is why A&E chose to cancel the show, in much the same way their dim-witted executives also tried to ruin Duck Dynasty, one of their other highest rated programs.
Maybe they are appalled by any portrayal or reminder of traditional values, preferring rather to bring us another program dominated by tattooed biker assassins.
When questioned regarding their decision, the people of A&E told us that the program didn’t appeal to their youth audience, an admission that the tastes of older viewers would rarely be considered in programming decisions.
But what of Longmire?
If you’re familiar with the man, then you already know that Longmire doesn’t kill easily. And I have a hunch that the sheriff will survive this threat to his show, in much the same way Walt has survived the past attempts on his life.
Standing shoulder to shoulder against those who mean Longmire harm, like Vic and Henry in times of danger, millions of angry viewers have joined the sheriff’s posse. And in much the same way that Sheriff Longmire always gets his man, these determined viewers plan to get their show placed on another network.
A network that neither despises its viewers, nor its own success.
But until that day comes, you’ll still have Mr. Johnson’s bestselling books in the Longmire series.
Fortunately, A&E still hasn’t figured out a way to take those away.