HBO did it again. Another thrilling show to take over our lives, daily conversations and Facebook posts.
True Detective follows two incompatible detectives, played by Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey, as they investigate a ritualistic murder back in 1995.
The detectives tell the story in present day as they are interviewed about the case. The detectives interviewing them focus on different inconsistencies they find in their retelling of what happened back then. Although the story is episodic, it feels more like a movie as it progresses. The root of the series lies in discovering what went wrong along the way, and what led to the demise of these characters’ seemingly perfect lives, especially Rust’s.
In the image above, McConaughey’s character Rust looks aged and strung out. As Rust retells his story in present day, he pounds beer and chain-smokes cigarettes better than anyone from Mad Men, while Harrelson’s character Hart, is both witty and defensive when talking about the case.
But what is it about True Detective that works so well? Here are our top five reasons to love the show.
1. The leading guys.
McConaughey’s acting is on point. Recently nominated for his role in Dallas Buyers Club, McConaughey delivers again with his ability to bring Rust’s character to life in an extraordinary way. His acting has distinct purpose while remaining intriguing and exciting. Woody Harrelson’s dark sense of humor brings necessary comic relief to a gut-wrenching plot. We’ve loved seeing him in Cheers, No Country For Old Men and Zombieland, and his presence is this series is indispensable. The combination of these two create outstanding lead performances.
2. Who doesn’t love a good murder mystery? *Spoiler Alert*
The first episode kicks off with the two detectives finding a naked girl tied up to a tree with a crown of deer antlers on her head. Weird, twisted, perhaps ritualistic? The manhunt for the serial killer(s) begins and only six episodes in, we continue to be entwined in the plot, characters, and what they do to discover truth. We are told the case was never closed, did they find the right guy? Is there someone committing similar murders presently? The ideas we form about what will happen are continuously changing and the ending is sure to deliver.
3. A humm-able introduction song.
The Handsome Family Man – “Far From Any Road”
Paired with strange industrial art, the song kicks off the tone of the series. It’s eerie, southern, and dark, similar to the series. That brings me to the another reason why True Detective is the show to watch.
4. The setting.
The series takes place in the harsh wilderness of Louisiana. After watching behind the scenes clips and making of the show, you can see how the actors were thrown into the real environment of Louisiana and forced to go with it. In episode five, the detectives approach a known meth lab deep in rural Louisiana to find a suspect. The set designers grew this meth lab from the ground up. It was a dry patch of dirt and low grass until they sprinkled different seeds and fertilizers, waited for months for it to naturally grow, and then proceeded to build the meth lab from the ground up. The grass stands waist-high, which produces a raw and real set that brings the setting to life. In an interview, McConaughey talks about how they had to dodge snakes and other animals when working, making it necessary for the crew to hire a falconer who used owls and hawks on set to keep deadly snakes away. Intense, right?
5. This 7-minute scene. *Possible Spoiler* (Though you probably wouldn’t ruin anything major by watching this amazing action sequence.)
In this scene from season 1, episode 4, Cohle is working undercover to help a biker gang named the Iron Crusaders raid the housing projects to steal drugs and money from a stash house. As the scene unfolds, things go south pretty quickly, and Cohle must quickly escape with the target, Ginger. This scene, called a “oner,” is a continuous shot that lasts for over 6 minutes. During the last 10 minutes of this episode, I sat on the edge of my couch, jaw on the floor, heart racing. I was officially hooked on both the show and director Cary Fukunaga’s unique style.
Shortly after the episode, MTV interviewed Fukunaga about the breathtaking climax of episode four.
“Fukunaga decided to end the episode with a six-minute oner, or long take, that follows Cohle into a heist inside a housing project, through a number of shootouts, outside to escape from swarming police, through another house, over a fence and finally into Hart’s car. It’s the kind of incredible shot that’s worth watching again and again to catch every detail in it and further blurs the line between television and film.” – MTV
If you haven’t started watching True Detective yet, it’s not too late to begin. The show plays on HBO Sunday nights at 9 p.m., and if you don’t have HBO, try to get login information from a friend. According to the company’s chief executive, account sharing is a, “terrific marketing vehicle for the next generation of viewers.” HBO knows they’re in the business of building video addicts and they enable us every week with new episodes to feed our addictions. I’m not even mad about it.