True Detective; the best anthological crime drama?

True Detective; the best anthological crime drama?

HBO has always been on the game when it comes to entertaining its audiences with exceptional storytelling through series. True Detective is such one lesser-known gem that deserves all the accolades. As the name suggests this anthology crime drama series by Nic Pizzolatto, mainly focuses on two detectives from Louisiana State Police who investigate the murder of a prostitute. 

Premiered in January of 2014, Season 1 of the series is gory, philosophical and gut-wrenching in every possible way. Its opening theme song deserves a separate Emmy for itself. Nic Pizzolatto, writer and creator of this series, first played with this idea for his novel but eventually, his desire of working on TV led him to True Detective. People have showered high praises for Pizzolatto for this series. 

This philosophically rich show has inspired many movies and series of crime genres. He has not shied away from including various essences of nihilism, masculinity, Christianity, anti-natalism and pessimism in the storyline. True Detective is heavily inspired by various books like “The Conspiracy Against Human Race” by Thomas Ligotti, “Sanctuary” by William Faulkner and “The King In Yellow” by Robert W. Chambers. If there is one thing that can make the screenplay overlook then that is the performance and screen chemistry between McConaughey and Harrelson. With no doubt, both of them have given many brilliant performances in their previous movies but this one still stands out among all. 


True Detective unfolds itself in a nonlinear narrative structure going through three different time periods. The first episode of the series starts with a timeline of 2012 where two detectives interview former homicide detectives, Rustin Cohle played by Matthew McConaughey and Martin Hart played by Woody Harrelson as Hurricane Rita has destroyed all the files related to past cases. But as the series builds itself with its philosophical complexity and atmospheric narrative, we come to know it’s not a hurricane that has led to the summon of Rust and Marty. 

The series successfully connects with its audience with the portrayal of two broken protagonists. McConaughey’s character Rust is a no-nonsense guy who has a tragic past whereas Harrelson’s Marty is the kind of a guy who fights for right with the baddest way possible. These two characters are poles apart from each other. They wouldn’t mind grabbing each other’s collar which in fact they do. 

Rust who lost his two years old daughter thinks human consciousness is a tragic mistake and the best thing humans can do is stop reproducing and walk hand in hand towards extinction. Marty who is disgusted with the idea somewhere believes even if the world is full of decay and people are morally corrupt, it’s worth believing for. This series through its characters shows us the dark naked truth of the society which we have been turning a blind eye to. Characters in the series search for their purpose of life through crime, drugs, corruption, murder and cults. With each passing time, they are slowly losing their morales. In the eyes of Rust, this desire and fascination of sense of self we are achieving nothing but unleashing our darker selves.

In one scene where two protagonists talk about religion, Rust tells Marty about how a preacher sells the idea of the light at the end of a tunnel and questions the IQ of the group. Marty replies by saying some people enjoy the community and the common good. He questions his partner if he can imagine what kind of unimaginable things people would do if they stopped believing. In retrospect, both of them aren’t wrong but what hits the most to the audience is Rust’s answer. He goes on saying if people stopped believing they would do exactly the same things they do right now just out in the open. 

Pizzolatto’s Season 1 of True Detective is one of its kind. Apart from the ambitious screenplay, brilliant acting and beautiful color grading, the selection of music in each episode is one thing that definitely hooks you up with the vibe of the story as it progresses.

On a whole, this series has such rich philosophy and depraved characters we will do a separate article on the characters and their psychological transformation. Till then enjoy a few lines from the series.

  • Life’s barely long enough to get good at one thing. So be careful what you get good at.
  • Death created time to grow the things that it would kill.
  • It’s all one ghetto man, giant gutter in outer space.
  • Well, if the common good has got to make up fairy tales, then it’s not good for anybody. 
  • People incapable of guilt, usually do have a good time.
  • I think the honorable thing for our species to do is deny our programming. Stop reproducing. Walk hand in hand into extinction, one last midnight. Brothers and sisters opting out of a raw deal.
  • If the only thing keeping a person decent is the expectation of divine reward, then brother that person is a piece of shit

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