Oh, True Detective. True Detective, True Detective, True Detective. What are we going to do with you?
Season One’s undoubted quality was marred by the stock and shallow nature of the woman characters, by the show’s unrelenting focus on manfeels and manpain and the tortured, disoriented experience of masculinity in a world where the traditional masculine virtues are no longer zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
And you actually seem to have taken note of the criticism. So for Season Two you’ve given us a woman character as co-lead. She’s one of the three cops whose paths converge at the end of the first episode, and will presumably end up investigating this season’s plot alongside (in some sense) the highway patrolman one who can’t get his willy to go hard (at least in non-abusive situations) and the hard-drinking, miserable, semi-criminal Colin Farrell one.
But her bits of the episode are the weakest by far. By far. Noticeably weak, melodramatic, straightforward and rubbish compared to the less-scrutable strands concerning the other two. So jarringly crap that they almost seem to belong to a different, inferior show. One of the bits of the Law & Order franchise, for example.
She’s got an unsatisfactory relationship with her needy boyfriend, towards whom she is perfunctory and cold, apparently just using him (not very effectively) for sex. Aww, poor him. His girlfriend must have ISSUES of some kind if her primary focus in life isn’t servicing his emotional and penile needs. (We meet the highway patrolman’s girlfriend later. Her primary focus in life seems to be servicing his emotional and penile needs. Funnily enough, there’s no indication at all that she has ISSUES of any kind… aside from pouty jealousy when he leaves her for even 8 seconds.)
Cop woman’s got a schizophrenic younger sister (we know she’s schizophrenic via the highly original and unclunky line “have you gone off your meds again?”) who is hostile towards her. Cop woman had to look out for when their mother died which led to said younger sister being rebellious towards her and going off the rails, ending up on drugs and petty crime and porn (because, of course, no woman is a sex worker unless she has ISSUES). Wow, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like that on TV before.
The woman cop finds out that her rebellious younger sister is doing porn by happening to raid the place where she happens to be doing porn. So that’s not contrived at all.
We later learn of the underlying problem with Cop Woman’s life, and guess what… it all traces back to a man! Guess which man. Go on, guess. Yep, you guessed it: Daddy. She’s got Daddy issues! Colour me fucking astonished.
You know how we find out about said daddy issues? She goes to see her partly-estranged father during the episode as a result of picking up a missing person case directly linked to his hippy self-help commune. So she goes to investigate (’cos, on TV, detectives are always allowed to investigate cases involving their own families) and ends up having a fraught chat with Daddy… during which we learn, in dialogue so leaden and expository that it belongs in the early scenes of an 80s Bond film, that she holds him responsible for her mother’s suicide (what a fucking surprise) and that she joined the police as an act of rebellion against his hippy lifestyle (again, unprecedented in TV drama).
It might be argued that this is his analysis of her, and that the episode itself doesn’t necessarily back him… but it totally fucking does. I admit, at first I thought he was meant to be a generic and unsympathetic hippy asshole (because everyone with a non-conventional and/or spiritual and/or anti-authority attitude in this kind of Dick Wolf shite is always some combination of narcissist, bullshit-artist, demagogue and cynical, self-serving fanatic) but the episode swings with him. It tells us it’s doing so by allowing him the last word. He gets to lecture his cop daughter about her daddy issues, and then, when she says “help your daughter” (referring to the sister) and storms off, he gets to say a wise and sad “I just did”.
Not that the rest of the episode is all that great. But the bits which (like the entirety of Season One) involve the sympathetic and in-depth exploration of manpain and manfeels and and the tortured, disoriented experience of masculinity in a world where the traditional masculine virtues are no longer zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz are at least competently executed, and don’t look like the first draft of someone’s first attempt at a script at film school. The woman cop gets generic, cliched, recycled, melodramatic huffiness and prudishness and sister-problems and daddy issues. The male cops get edgy, dark torment and poetic forays into melancholy disillusion. It’s almost like somebody gave a shit about the manfeels material but not about the girly bits. Huh.
Mind you, the Colin Farrell one got at least one line that actually made me groan.
“I wanted to be an astronaut when I was a kid,” he growls into a taped message for his son, “but astronauts don’t even go the moon anymore.”
Oh fuck off. Seriously, fuck off. Fuck off and come back so you can fuck off again. And keep fucking off until you’ve reached the outermost coastline of Fuckoffland and then keep fucking off so you fall off the white cliffs of Fuckoffland into the Fuckoffic Ocean.
Can we please stop getting drama about how hard it is to be a white dude in a post-myth, post-heroic world where white dudes are no longer allowed any dreams? About how unfair it is that the bitch ex-wife who blames you for shit that wasn’t your fault meanspiritedly insists upon marrying a new guy who isn’t a total wanker… and sadistically insists you pay alimony… and satanically tries to restrict your ability to bully and harangue your son?
I don’t care, okay?
I do not. Fucking. Care.