11 March 2014
I'm finding it hard to explain the appeal of the series and often have great difficulty telling someone to, "Go and watch, sure! It's so gooooood!" ... because "good" is subjective.
Good can be an episode of Castle, or Person of Interest, or The Good Wife, or Breaking Bad, or Scandal, or Parenthood, or Episodes, or Portlandia. See the degrees of differences?
It would be hard for me to lump True Detective in a category of greatness.
Because it's just... different.
Setting aside the acting and the cinematography of the show (coz these two elements on True Detective are some of its strongest), I would not be able to qualify its pluses without sounding like I'm over-selling the story.
The essence of every show is in the story --- how it started, how it's played out, and most importantly, how it ended. For many viewers, the ending is crucial. It must top everything else. It should have the show go out with one big hurrah. Only, True Detective's ending, at least for the first season, is not what you'd expect from a show that started building up the plot with each episode. In fact, too many people were not happy about its conclusion. (Read: Is True Detective Overrated?; The Disappointing Finale of True Detective; True Detective Finale: This is it?)
Most people have mistaken this series for a "whodunit"; for getting suckered into figuring out the clues and secrets, and then figuring out the bad guy(s). I was one of those people. I followed theory after theory thrown on the internet, in the hopes of trying to discover clues to plot twists, in as much as I couldn't really understand where most of these theories lead up to. This habit of reading up on a show's many "secrets" is something I've developed since Lost, by the way. (Damn you, Lostpedia!!!) But while watching the last episode of True Detective playing out the other day, I finally got the sense that this was all so.....freaking simple.
To anyone planning on binging the first season of the show, bear this in mind:
The real story is not in the plot.
The real story is in the two lead characters.
To understand their development as characters is to get the essence of the show. To see their relationship --- with each other, with other people and with themselves --- go from one point to the next, is to experience the show's deepness.
Forget all the secrets. Forget hunting down meanings and clues. Look at Rust and Marty, and watch their transformation.
That's where True Detective is different from all the other good shows out there.