I should preface this piece with an acknowledgement of the inherent arrogance in judging a trailer that essentially amounts to a series of unrelated images. Therefore, this article should be read with the knowledge that I critique a set of iconographic sensibilities on behalf of HBO and Nic Pizzolatto, rather than the quality of True Detective Season 2. Basically, that's a long winded way of saying not to judge a book by it's cover, unless that cover looks pretty awful. Then it's fine... right?
Do you remember the moment you got into True Detective? I don't. It seems every time HBO need to generate buzz, they drop a couple episodes with some kind of sonic frequency that compels you to spread their shows. The hype surrounding Season 1 of True Detective was surreptitious compared to other HBO broadcasts. You could even say its spread was way more subtle. By the way, are you watching Game of Thrones? I'm watching [Game of Thrones](movie:817617)! IT WILL BE WINTER SOON, VALAR MONGOLOS HA!!
True Detective Season 1 came and went, and we all woke up from that collective haze of thinking it was the next big thing. It wasn't bad. It was actually very good, but the majority of viewers seemed to misunderstand that the micro-mythos and macabre aesthetic of the show had value in and of themselves, and weren't playing into any grand scheme. What is HBO and Nic Pizzolatto's response for Season 2? Take away the micro mythos and macabre aesthetic, leaving only the gruff man drama, and maybe a grand scheme. But mostly GRUFF MAN DRAMA!
Perhaps I'm being unfair to this trailer, but being unfair to creations of mass media organisations is the only way I exert power over anything, so whatever! I honestly can't make it through this trailer without laughing at the procession of men taking their frustrations out on each other. Just look at the way Taylor Kitsch, Vince Vaughn and Colin Farrell consecutively appear to push, or punch whatever irks their deep masculine egos. It literally looks like they're taking turns! What's best is that it doesn't even look intentional. I can almost picture the editors, hands over mouths, thinking "Oh God, we've just made a gritty reboot of the come at me bro moment from Jersey Shore!
As a teaser, this just kind of exists. It's the time-honoured "play some clips and put on a song" method of trailer. So what can be gleamed from this fleeting encounter with Nic Pizzolatto's newest effort?
California! Excited Yet?
So at least part of True Detective Season 2 will be taking place in LA County. Los Angeles, as you might not know, is a place where movies and television are sometimes filmed. I'll admit I was part of the collective groan upon hearing the show's setting was being moved, partly because I almost feel like I live in LA through sheer TV osmosis. I won't write the location off completely. Some things like the Crank movies and Richard Kelly's Southland Tales have been able to bring stark aesthetics from LA (and that has nothing to do with that fact those are some of my favourite films), yet I'll say to this location shift what I say to True Detective in general. Change anything, as long as it's interesting!
One of the best things about [True Detective](series:755331) Season 1 was its sense of mystic omnipresence that the characters and audience couldn't quite pinpoint, and part of that was down to the setting in the deep south. The show teetered on this sense of cosmic dread, and while most of the aesthetic was down-to-earth vanilla grittiness, if some inter-dimensional Cthulhu beast suddenly swallowed up Matthew McConaughey, I'd be all like "yep".
I'm not suggesting that pseudo-occult elements are integral to True Detective, and I certainly don't think it should dive into full-blown magical realism. However, the Season 2 trailer seems to have backed up on the mystic elements that enticed people in Season 1. While it's been confirmed that some relation to occult craziness will remain, I simply find it odd that it isn't being used as a selling point. So what has the show kept around to keep us engaged for Season 2?
Mmm those are some tasty rehashbrowns!
Here's the secret to True Detective's success. Are you ready for it? Dudes standing around thinking. I'm not even kidding; that's the magic element that helped Season 1 captivate so many. The idea of a murder case played so seriously that it has an existential effect on two distinct main characters is somehow inspired. It's so elegant and basic, it almost taps into the very form of the detective genre. Why else do you think so so many casting rumours have been floating around? Never had we seen Mcconaughey and Harrelson able to bring themselves so fully to such simple roles. It's tempting to start mixing and matching right away, and that's what the show-runners did. The problem is, it looks like they didn't do anything else.
I'm now of the opinion that I could star in my own True Detective spin-off, and you can too! It's easy. Just don't shave for a while, skip meals and make sure you get less than three hours sleep a night. Then you need only to sit around and think about like... death, or life... or something, y'know? Film that, and you've got television magic on your hands!
Perhaps I'm asking for the impossible, here; for a recognisable and reusable formula to stay fresh throughout multiple iterations. HBO's casting decisions very nearly seem like a slot machine that gives you fun kooky combinations with every try. Case and point, this...
While I can complain all day about a minute-long selection of clips with an unambitious setting full of gruff men posturing and being boringly introspective, I can't feel like any betrayal has been made. For one, that's an insufferably entitled stance to take, which the internet is doing every day for me, and two, it ignores the biggest truth of all. What might that be, you ask?
No One Understands True Detective
I like True Detective. I like its brazen commitment to a style long considered cliche. I like how no matter what flaws you find, you still feel like you're in for a treat as each episode begins. I love how fiercely ignorant it is of its own ripeness for parody, and despite all that, I still don't feel attached to an established show. Why? Because I've only seen eight episodes of it. EIGHT! Parks and Rec didn't come into it's own until after two seasons! How can we suggest that True Detective has any solid identity when all we've had time to do is impose what we liked about its first season onto its second?
I'll say it again. Change. Adapt. Do whatever you want, Nic Pizzalatto. I will take whatever vision you have seriously, even though your name sounds a bit like Pizza Latte. Bring us any wacked out creative endeavour you want. Just make it interesting. So far, all I can see is that Rachel McAdams now plays a lady True Detective.
It's hard to complain about a teaser trailer when there's just so little to latch on to. It's even harder to complain about a show as bizarre and fleeting, yet as impactful as True Detective. When all a show gives you is the chance to make fun of Colin Farrell's moustache, you know all you can do is sit and wait.
It's ultimately futile to be outraged by the trailer for True Detective Season 2, which is ironic, since I just wrote a veritable essay on it. What a load of needless stress trying to spell Matthew McConoguhey... McConahaugh? McConaughey... YES!