We are very much living in the, for want of a better word, ‘era’ of outstanding TV dramas wherein the plot-lines, actors and budgets are what we would usually expect from cinema, giving us gripping adaptations of renowned books and suspense filled series full of originality.
One is oft-greeted with animated fervour upon any mention of Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad and House of Cards from friends, colleagues, strangers, generating either a rapturous conversation discussing EVERYTHING about it, or awkward stares and possibly loss of respect if you’ve not watched it. They will certainly urge you, almost pleadingly, to watch their favourite show, as if it were life or death. It is, of course.
It can be wondefully bemusing to hear of those who reject the hype around certain programming for the simple fact it is popular; perhaps upon consideration they allow themselves to believe this makes them “cool” but the future of their reasoning will present them with two possibilities, and two only: 1) They will remain adamant in their position of apparent social superiority and miss out on an amazing show, or 2) curiosity and being surrounded by avid viewers of the show will eventually break their resistance and they will decide to watch it.
That might sound ominously conformist, but you get the point; we are lucky to be blessed with such stellar entertainment and the reasoning of “everybody else watches it” doesn’t really wash.
There is little wonder why True Detective has received such plaudits and high ratings (it currently has a rating of 9.3 on IMDb). As an audience, we are confronted with intrigue and mystery from minute one, the scene which sets up the premise of the show. Initially, we meet the protagonists and former detectives Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) and Marty Hart (Woody Harrelson) in the present day, undergoing interviews by two current officers about a previous case, one that involves a homicidal Satan worshipper.
Dark story lines highlight the true monstrosities of the world in which we live, eschewing a pessimistic narrative and sinister implications. Not for the faint-hearted, True Detective explores paedohphilia and murder, as well as deeper psychological aspects and pessimistic existential philosophy, the latter through the brilliant mind of McConaughey’s character, Rust.
The character of Marty balances out what would be an intimidatingly dark drama; his incredulous one-line responses to Rust’s perceived kookiness adds a light-hearted feel. Marty is perhaps a more typical police officer than Rust, who is often seen as an outsider, and his character is used as a device to explore the American male and his gender role in relationships, society and the workplace.
The flashbacks provide us with a dual plot-line, as told by Rust and Marty, which adds dynamism and originality to the show as we find out more about the characters’ personalities and how time has altered their perspectives. The separate timelines offer the viewer an insight into the changing relationship of the two main characters, the apparent animosity that has developed between them and their work on the case.
The ingenuity of Rust is captivating and his abilities are showcased as the series progresses. This, coupled with the intrigue of the plot, makes for another binge-worthy TV drama. Unsurprisingly, McConaughey and Harrelson are faultless throughout, both cementing their reputations as top class actors.
So this is a plea to watch it; don’t be one of “those”people because you’ll miss out on one of the most fascinating dramas on television.