The following is a spoiler-free review of True Detective. Enjoy!
Sometime in early spring, my Facebook wall got a lot of “you have to watch True Detective” messages, all of them coming from people I trust and who know my tastes pretty well. So, during my Spring Break, I thought I should watch it, totally aware that if it were as good as everyone said, I would have the time to just stay at home and watch as many episodes a day as I would love. Turned out my timing worked amazingly: no one spoiled me the finale and I pretty much stuck to one episode a day.
I started watching the series with an open mind, only knowing that it involved two detectives and that one of them was played by Matthew McConaughey, whose acting talents I had only discovered with Dallas Buyers Club (the previous reference I had of him was Failure to Lunch, mind you). So, I sat down to watch the pilot episode and an hour later I was in awe.
For one thing, the writing is really good. But what made me fall in love with the show, apart from McConaughey’s character, but we will get there soon; was the setting. I love the Southern states, and although my heart belongs mostly to Tennessee, Louisiana proved to be a phantasmagoric, suffocating and dangerous setting. Just the perfect one for the murder they are investigating.
See what I mean? Louisiana’s flat, humid and wasted landscape echoes the crime, but also the main characters’ internal lives, or at least, Mcconaughey’s one. Regarding the crime, dealt with during the whole season, and without giving too much away (just what the trailer does): Cohle and Hart investigate the murder of a young woman whose body shops up under a tree in strange circumstances. And that is all you need to know to watch it. If you are curious, you can see the crime scene here.
Now, returning to my infatuation with Detective Rust Cohle: McConaughey plays a philosophical and introvert man who has moved to Louisiana from Texas and does not get along well with Woody Harrelson’s character, Detective Marty Hart. So, we have a mysterious character, with an unknown past and working issues, because let’s be clear, being all philosophical back in 1995 was not fashionable for a cop. He is also defined in opposition to Detective Marty Hart, who stands for a traditional and patriarchal cop. Yes, I hated him.
But, because there is a “but”, I had one big problem with True Detective and it was women’s representation. I knew when I sat down to watch it that it was not Rizzoli & Isles or Bones. I knew the main character was two men, yet I was clearly disappointed. I will not give away anything, but there is more to women than wives, girlfriends, secretaries and prostitutes. Even in Louisiana. Even in 1995. However, I read somewhere that there were no detective women in the Boston Police Homicide Department until 1988. I do not know if it was time for Louisiana to have a female cop in 1995, but I wish it were. More importantly, I wish writer Nic Pizzolatto would have thought there could have been and written a female character that does not fit into a traditional role. Meanwhile, Kate Mara and Ellen Page have already offered themselves to star in the show’s second season.
So, did I love True Detective? Yes. Would I recommend you to watch it? Totally, and you would better do before someone spoils the ending for you. However, since the seasons are self-contained, the second season will have different characters and a different crime to investigate, so do not be afraid of not being able to catch up later on. Just think of True Detective as a long movie. A long, beautiful and haunting movie.