December 2, 2023


Man is the cruelest animal.

This is the tagline for True Detective, HBO’s original series written by Nic Pizzolatto and directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga (who previously directed the 2011 adaptation of Jane Eyre), and stars Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson.

The show is centred around a 17-year hunt for a serial killer in Louisiana and the lives of the two detectives, Rust (McConaughey) and Marty (Harrelson) over this time. The story is told initially in flashbacks by the two characters and slowly moves into the present where the climax takes place. You can really feel the passing time as both of the characters change physically. I won’t spoil any story points for the series as I think it’s best to go in knowing as little as possible because this is a mystery and there are many plot twists throughout the first season.

The acting in this series is also phenomenal, with the strongest coming from McConaughey.

Harrelson is also great as Marty but it’s McConaughey’s Rust Cohle who is just riveting to watch, as he plays a nihilist who can also see “visions” as a side effect of his drug abuse. The chemistry between the two leads is also very good, as they play two detectives who hate each other but work extremely well together and also kind of need each other. Other actors to note in the show are Michelle Monaghan as Maggie Hart, Marty’s wife, and Michael Potts and Troy Kittles as the detectives interviewing Rust and Marty throughout the series.

Another thing that is incredible about the series but has come to be expected from HBO programming is the production quality. This looks and feels like a film, and a very well-made film at that. Fukunaga has a very stylized vision of Louisiana, one that is very grey, gloomy and ugly. Fukunaga’s Jane Eyre had a similar look to it and it’s fitting with the tone of the show. The direction is also fairly ambitious for TV with one episode featuring a single take shot that lasts around seven minutes and follows Rust through the ghetto. It’s something that just needs to be seen to be appreciated.

One problem I did have with the show was at times it felt like it was dragging. The show overall is very slow paced but at times it does feels like it isn’t going anywhere. As the show ramps up toward the end, however, I found it became less of a problem. There were also some curious plot points that made me scratch my head but I won’t share them because I don’t want to spoil anything.

Even with these faults True Detective is one of the best television shows I have seen in a long time. It kept me in its grip from beginning to end. With only eight episodes around an hour each, it is easily digestible in a weekend. This is a show that you shouldn’t miss, it is just that amazing.

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