Obviously Nic Pizzolatto can do what he likes, but because I was such a huge fan of the first series of True Detective, flaws and all, this post is more about stoking my own excitement than anything else. If you needed a reminder, series two of True Detective starts on Monday (21st June) and I couldn’t be more excited. This time around the story is set in LA, California, and stars the likes of Colin Farrell, Rachel McAdams, Taylor Kitsch and Vince Vaughan. Everything points to another study in broken people doing dark things and trying to come out of the end of it alive. So here are the five things I’d like to see from series two…
1. Keep the intensity
Pretty much from the first frame of series one, True Detective got me straight away. Its crime was horrific, and the two men asked to investigate it where quite obviously the totally wrong men to get involved in something so dark. Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) was an obsessive nihilist, Marty Hart (Woody Harrelson) was treading water in his local town, drifting through a failing marriage and struggling to hold on to any sense of worth. Cohle and Hart;s relationship yinned and yanged throughout the series as they were carried down into the abyss with serious dark momentum. And we went along for that ride, riding the waves as they bared their souls and faced down their emotional demons. I want more of this intensity in series two, and I’d be totally okay with more existential, Nietzschean philosophising. I really would.
2. Better drawn female characters
I did defend Pizzolatto over this, but I can certainly see why the likes of Emily Nussbaum did not approve. In her superb take-down in The New Yorker (read her brilliant, incendiary piece here) she argued that the show was nothing more than a male fantasy, providing female characters that were so thinly drawn that they conformed only to stereotype. Her overall argument was correct, and True Detective 2 will be watched like a hawk to see how Pizzolatto has responded to these criticisms. Personally, I want to see fully-formed female characters. Why? Because fully-formed characters, male or female, make for better drama. And better written female characters help to smash those stereotypes of the put-upon wife and the vacant teen prostitute we saw much of in the first series.
3. For Messrs Vaughn, McAdams and Kitsch to defy the odds
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a film starring Vince Vaughn, so I don’t know an awful lot about him. I don’t think I’ve seen a film starring Rachel McAdams either. Everything I’ve read about the casting of these two – plus Taylor Kitsch – seems to suggest that this is a huge departure for them, starring as they have in (mostly) comedies and coming-of-age romcoms. We know what we’re getting from Farrell – hardboiled, doomed, twinkle in the eye etc – but for Vaughn, McAdams and Kitsch it’s a chance to show they can cut it on a more serious stage.
4. For the real Lose Angeles to be shown
Los Angeles has always held an allure for me, and not necessarily the glamorous side of things. I love LA noir fiction and am fascinated by things like The Black Dahlia case, if only because it brutally describes that strange LA contradiction – its sunny climate and lifestyle promises those that come out west stardom and a slice of the American dream; where the reality is often housed in a suburban dive bar because those dreams have been exploited and crushed. I want to see this LA in True Detective. I want to see the friction between the haves and the have-nots; I want to see characters who inhabit sleazy bars and who live outside of the stereotypical LA bubble. I want to see how this strange, sprawling city sucks people in and spits people out.
5. A better ending
After such a thrilling, intense journey the first series of True Detective ended with not so much of a whimper but a shrug of the shoulders. As Cohle and Hart crept their way into the labyrinthine Carcosa to take on The Yellow King, it seemed to switch genre – from crime drama to 1980s horror movie. So grotesque was The Yellow King it felt like I was watching the Texas Chainsaw Massacre or one of its contemporaries. The fact that both Cohle and Hart made it out alive was a bit of a cop-out, too, especially when Cohle, healing in the hospital, told Hart he had seen the light and believed there was something else out there. For someone so, ahem, dead against such things and so wrapped up in the futility of humankind for so long, this didn’t feel right. I want to see a better, more philosophically plausible ending.
But it comes down to it, I just want to see it!
True Detective: Monday 22nd June, 9pm, Sky Atlantic
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