‘Did I tell you about my body issues?’ … Colin Farrell (Ray) announces his support for feminism to Rachel McAdams (as Ani) Photograph: Lacey Terrell
Spoiler alert: this blog details events in the second episode of the second season of True Detective which airs on Sunday nights on HBO in America, and Mondays in the UK on Sky Atlantic at 2am and 9pm.
‘It’s all papier mache’
Vinci, California, as you might have grasped by now, is not a terribly nice place. You might have grasped it from the fact that the fictional city is the worst air polluter in the state or the fact that it has a booming trade in sweatshops, or maybe from the fact that its mayor is a lush who takes backhanders from local criminals and whose son was involved in a hit and run, his face “so coke-dusted he looked like a clown”. Or you might just have grasped it from the permanent wrinkle on Ani Bezzerides’ (Rachel McAdams) nose as she observes all the sulphur and sin. The point is that the show really, really wants you to get that this is a corrupt hellscape, a signifier for the evil that men do to one another. As metaphors go it’s as subtle as a shotgun blast to the groin (more on which later).
Last week Vox ran a piece entitled The 31 Ridiculous Moments Of The True Detective Premiere, which mocked everything from Leonard Cohen’s gravelly theme tune to Taylor Kitsch’s oral sex face. While I’m fairly certain that you could break most shows down to their composite parts and make them look ludicrous in the process, one recurring criticism in the Vox piece it’s difficult to shake is the utter self-importance of Nic Pizzolatto’s writing, full of dime store profundity and clunky signifiers. This isn’t exactly breaking news; plenty of people were saying the same about True Detective’s first season. But that first season at least had the element of surprise on its side, its metaphysical ruminations and trippy setting masking some seriously hoary detective tropes. Now recast in a more familiar setting, the show feels at times dangerously close to cliche, its studied noir gruffness almost begging to be mocked.
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