True Detective on HBO

true detective on hbo

true detective on hboMidwest Mark did a review of True Detective on HBO and I wanted to add on to it now that we are three episodes in to the season. If you don’t know, True Detective is a new crime anthology on HBO starring Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey. After watching three episodes of True Detective, I can say for sure that this is TV at it’s best. HBO has been setting the standard when it comes to quality TV programming for many years now and True Detectives continues that tradition.

True Detective is an anthology show. That means that each season will tell a story with a new cast and a new story. This first season is set in Southern Louisiana and focuses on two detectives played by Harrelson and McConaughey who are being interviewed about a murder that has just happened that is very similar to one the duo investigated back in 1995. The problem? They arrested and convicted someone for the 1995 murder. If he’s in jail, how has this new murder happened that follows the same pattern?

The story is told through flashbacks during the interviews given by Det. Martin Hart (Harrelson) and Rustin Cohle (McConaughey). We see immediately that in the 17 years since their 1995 investigation that things have changed. Hart is still a cop and Cohle is very obviously not. This is where this show starts to show it’s brilliance.

The story being told by the two detectives is nuanced and subtle. This is not your typical cop show where they beat you over the head with the obvious. The show wouldn’t be as good as it is if that were the case. After three episodes we are starting to get a picture of what happened to these two detectives on the 1995 case but we are not sure what the picture is telling us.

Stephen Marche of Esquire Magazine wrote recently that he believes McConaughey to be the best actor of his generation. If you watch him on True Detecive, you might tend to believe Marche. If you are one of those people who only associates McConaughey with his Dazed and Confused character, you are making a mistake. He has grown to be far more than that. His performance in True Detective is what is making this show. Harrelson is good, but McConaughey is carrying the show.

True Detective on HBO scene with Harrelson and McConaughey


McConaughey is brooding and dark and not at all over the top. Something happened to him since 1995, which we can tell given his state during his 2012 interview, but we don’t know what. We are getting pieces of his past that he is giving us a bit at a time. We are being set up to believe that McConaughey is probably involved in the most recent murder. That whatever happened in 1995 broke him and he is now acting out his inner demons. If that turns out to be the case I will be hugely disappointed in this show. I don’t believe that is going to be the case because it’s far too obvious. Something else is going on and I am bought in completely. I want to know what has happened and I’ll be going along for the ride with every episode dying to find out.

True Detective airs on HBO Sundays at 8:00. If you haven’t been watching, you can catch up with HBO on Demand or HBOGo. I suggest you get in to this show. It some of the best TV has to offer right now.