HBO’s True Detective is the Best MiniSeries on TV

Wow. If you aren’t watching HBO’s new miniseries True Detective, you’re not living. This anthology miniseries — which means each year will feature new actors, characters, and story lines, though all will undoubtedly be written by the series creator and award-winning writer Nic Pizzolatto — is a riveting and fascinating neo-noir crime thriller. Its unusual style, flashing back and forth between 2012 and 1995, combined with its other fine qualities make it more than worth watching. More than the  drop everything right now because True Detective is on watching.

It makes True Detective worth talking about.

True Detective is, without a doubt, the most amazing miniseries HBO has aired since Deadwood, and the most stunning storytelling since ShowTime’s miniseries about Henry VIII and his family: The Tudors. These are the things that make True Detective worth watching — over and over — and worth talking about:

  • its flashing back and forth between two time periods
  • the chemistry between the main protagonists, brilliantly acted by Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey
  • it’s about life, religion, choices, and the meaning of it all
  • it’s about a whole lot more than mowing the lawn
  • it’s got a kick-ass neo-noir theme song

I won’t spoil anything for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet, but this week, starting Saturday night before the Super Bowl, HBO is airing the first three episodes again, so now is your chance to catch up. Because if you don’t watch True Detective from the first scene, you will never be able to follow anything.

The Story Is Set in 2 Time Periods
The premise of this first season of True Detective is that two homicide detectives, Martin Hart (Woody Harrelson) and Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) are being questioned, in 2012, by two other detectives about the bizarre, ritualistic murder that took place in 1995, which Hart and Cohle supposedly solved. The show moves flawlessly between 2012, during the interviews, and 1995, when the detectives are working on the crime. Not only is the setting changed, but the characters dress differently and have completely different hairstyles, so the viewer always knows exactly which of the two time periods is being shown.

And it’s these two different time periods that make the show so fascinating because, while we know they’re discussing a murder that they supposedly solved almost 20 years previously, we don’t know why they’re being interviewed about it in 2012, and what’s happened between the two characters since then. That’s the first thing that makes this show intriguing.

The Chemistry Between the Protagonists
The chemistry between the protagonists, Cohle and Hart, goes far beyond the writing: McConaughey as Cohle, and Harrelson as Hart, also have incredible energy and chemistry that makes the characters come alive on a deeper level than some people ever attain in real relationships. In one of their many car scenes, while they’re investigating the murder in 1995, while they’re discussing life demonstrates this. Warning: Language

It’s About Life, Religion, and the Meaning of it All
Many of the scenes taking place in 2012 allow the individual protagonists to convey their opinions on life, religion, family, and the meaning of it all. But when the detectives Hart and Cohle are actually investigating the homicide in 1995, they get to interact in a way that reveals their individual flaws, which seem to be exacerbated yet simultaneously calmed by their professional pairing. When the two investigate an old-time-religion tent revival, their fascinating flaws and the bigger meaning of True Detective and what its writer is exploring is revealed. Warning: Language

It’s About More than Mowing the Lawn
So many books and movies and TV shows just slam you in the head with what they want you to know that it’s intellectually and artistically refreshing to find a show where mowing the lawn is about way more than mowing the lawn. Warning: Language

So, beyond the brilliant writing and story telling, the chemistry between the actors and protagonists, its exploration of life and its ultimate meaning, and the fact that even mowing the lawn is about way more than mowing the lawn — as if all that weren’t enough to make True Detective worth watching, it has a kick-ass theme song by The Handsome Family: “Far From Any Road,” that fits the show perfectly.

As I said earlier, there’s no new episode on this week since the show’s regular slot is Sundays at 9 EST, and this Sunday is the Super Bowl. Rather than competing for the audience, HBO is showing the first 3 episodes again, in a row, starting Saturday 1 Feb at 8 EST.

If I were you, I’d watch.

If you don’t, you’ll regret it.

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