Woody Harrelson as Louisiana cop Marty Hart with his angry underbite, interesting blood pressure spikes, and recognizable male jazz moves gives a performance that grows more impressive on subsequent viewings, while Matthew McConaughey as the former DEA agent Rust Cohle with his extravagant enigmas and bored-to-the-gills gnomic utterances is instantly mesmerizing.
Season one taught audiences to feel original by thinking about our unoriginal feelings about wanting something new. It was a meta-show about being a meta-show. Like Cohle, we want to “deny our programming and opt out of the raw deal” that is cable bundling’s iron grip. Like Hart, in the end we need to learn that opting out of the contract completely is a bad choice.
True Detective engages the symbolism of the Deep South by leveraging the neglected infrastructure and environmental collapse of contemporary Louisiana for its aesthetic language, tonality and plot. From title design onward, the landscape and the ubiquitous oil refineries have dramatic significance on a par with the show’s protagonists as a nonverbal means by which contesting visions of American-ness are played out against each other.