True Detective Season 1 – A Retrospective

Today, oh dear congregation, we are going to talk about one of my all time favorite seasons of television ever made. The first season of True Detective. Now, I feel like I am at a disadvantage here, because this season has been over analyzed to the point where it can kind of feel played out. So, I am going to avoid some of the threads other people have done better like light vs. dark or an extensive discussion of the philosophy and morality stuff or how fucking phenomenal the acting is. Instead, I am going to focus in on a few reasons I things I dont think gets enough play or just things that make this season really connect with me. 

Lets knock the obvious one out of the way now. I’m from Louisiana. Born and raised. And not just anywhere in the state. From the same part of the world that True Detective is set. And one thing I have said for years and years is that NO ONE depects Louisiana right in movies or TV. Its always either New Orleans or generic south. But this show, this show did two things right in this area. First, they shot it on location. They stuck their ass back in the fucking woods and backroads. One thing about the places out there, you dont need set design. The place is already fucked up enough to pull a visual texture. The show managed to show how shitty south Louisiana, and all it had to do was actually shoot the god damn place. 

Second, these side characters. Alot of times with shows like this, you get these side characters that have this generic terrible cajun accent. This show managed to not only nail the accents but give them some texture to breathe in. 

 I know a couple of Louisianians who don’t like the show because of their depection of people south of I-10. Someone told me, “We aren’t all fuckin crab trap hillbillies.” 

I said in reply, “I don’t know how to tell you this. You are all fucking crab trap hillbillies. Or on your road to it.” More than that, thats the kind of people who our protagonists and antagonists are stuck in. They arent in the main cities. They are out in the woods. And guess who lives out there. Guys like the crab trap guy. 

Which is a good time to bring up the fucking cinematography. This season is gorgeous, and every episode was shot by Cary Joji Fukunaga. Part of the reason why the next two seasons of the show sucked is its missing Cary’s lens, cause he is off making his own shit and getting tons of awards for it. As an example for this, I am going to pick the oner. Of course I the oner is the kind of thing that film geeks love talking about. What impresses me about Cary’s oner is the amount of movement in the frame. How the fuck they choreographed and blocked all this shit is a mistery to me. This man is a fucking beast behind the lens. 

I would be lying if I didnt say that a big reason I love this season is McConaughey’s Ruston Cohle. The way he describes Louisiana is the way I felt, but didnt have the faculties to fully express. There is something about his pessimism that keys into the sort of oblivion landscape of the bayou region. When you live out there for long enough, you really feel like the end of the world might be tomorrow. And if not, maybe it should be.

My only fear is that Rust may have predicted my eventual future. And I dont know how i feel about that

I will leave this post with one last thought. I think the main thing I love about True Detective is the journey over time. Its written in such a way that makes it impossible to have an additional story. You have an arc here that takes twenty years, and feels complete when its done. Its a journey we as the viewer have to take with Marty and Rust. And its quite the adventure. 

In a way, Nic Pizzolatto has put himself in a hole by doing this. Everyone, including myself, wants something as grand as True Detective season 1, and he just doesn’t have it in him. The new stuff tries to hard to recapture that magic. 

But, I am not bitter about it. We have an 8 hour set of amazing television. And for that we should celebrate. I love True Detective, and I will be watching it again. And again. And again…..

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