Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Time is a flat circle so let’s talk about the first season of True Detective again

Photo: HBO

It’s easy to forget just how good the first season of True Detective is, especially considering the backlash the series received during its second season. Was that first season as good as we remembered it?

Though we all obsessed over the show’s Lovecraftian undertones, it was Marty Hart and Rust Cohle that served as its sinewy, palpitating heart. Creator Nic Pizzolatto rarely spoke about the series without acknowledging the importance of character. In order to correct that, Film Radar issued a new video essay that breaks down just what exactly makes Hart and Cohle work so well. It wasn’t just the McConaissance, after all.

Though the video is ostensibly an ode to True Detective, it also functions as a lesson for aspiring writers in how to allow plot to emerge organically from character. As a means of contrast, Film Radar also explores the pitfalls of developing a story through aesthetics, using Gareth Edwards’ discussion of his process in making Rogue One as an example.


Though it doesn’t discuss it, the video essay also brings to mind the show’s maligned second season, which struggled in large part because its characters were, at least in the early going, so impenetrable. Perhaps that’s a consequence of building the season around four leads instead of two, or perhaps Pizzolatto simply became overwhelmed with the idea of having to transcend that first season.

Regardless, here’s to hoping that David Milch can help bring a third season to fruition.

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