TV’s never seen a family like the Farrell clan in “Outsiders”

Outsiders on WGN America Barb Oates

Get ready, as television has never seen the likes of a family like this. WGN America introduces us to the fictional Farrell family in Outsiders, premiering Tuesday, Jan. 26. The Farrell family has lived off the grid for six generations in the hills of Appalachia. They abide by their own long-held values, secretive beliefs and renegade rules. People don’t go up there, and they don’t come down. When a coal company tries to push the clan off their mountain, things change.

Outsiders on WGN AmericaOutsiders is an intoxicating look at the clash of two cultures fueled with plenty of action. The clan’s future leader is the grizzled Big Foster, whose long locks of hair filled with feathers and bones almost make star David Morse (The Hurt Locker, The Green Mile) unrecognizable.

“We don’t bathe a lot, so we’ve got a fair amount of dirt on us,” Morse says. He describes his character as brutal and totally self-indulgent, but shares that there’s more to him.

“As this goes on, you’ll find out more. The introduction is pretty harsh. … He’s the only person who really understands the danger that they are about to be in. People are relying on a magic that he doesn’t see or experience is just foolish to him. He, at the beginning of the story, really believes they really have to take things into their own hands in a serious way or they’re not going to survive. That’s really what he’s dedicated to is their survival.”

The Farrell’s homestead is a world all of its own. One of the things Morse loved, was the detail that wardrobe brought to the actors and the art direction into their community. “I don’t know if you can see all the stuff, but it’s just so full of imagination. It’s really artwork that we’re getting to walk around in, in our clothes and on our bodies with our tattoos, these great tattoos. It’s really magical. It’s pretty inspiring for us.”

The clan doesn’t use money; instead they live off the land and bootleg a pretty potent moonshine for trade. “We collect stuff. … It’s just a combination of things we make ourselves and stuff we feel we can just take from stores, whatever. We don’t have money so we don’t pay for any of it.”

Morse is referring to a scene that’s been featured in the series’ trailer that shows the Farrells riding into town on tricked-out ATVs, where they drive the four-wheelers into a super store scooping up whatever they want while store management turns a blind eye.

“Riding around on ATVs through a department store, robbing the place, we’ve never seen this before. I read that and said, ‘I can’t wait to get on one of those ATVs, and ride around the store,’” Morse says. “It’s a blast. Whenever the stunt guys get on, which is way too much as far as I’m concerned, I get very possessive of that machine that I get to ride around on.”

The 13-episode first season of Outsiders is filmed in and around Pittsburgh.