Top TV of the Decade: True Detective (Season 1)

Welcome to The Indiependent’s Top TV of the Decade! Our Deputy Film Editor, Ed Budds, dives into the first season of the hit crime-drama, True Detective

When we talk about True Detective in this ‘Top TV of the Decade’ discussion, it’s pretty vital to establish early on that we are mostly referring to the show’s first season, that originally aired in 2014. Created by Nic Pizzolatto, season one was the King of all procedural crime shows, focusing on detectives Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) and Marty Hart (Woody Harrelson) as they investigate the case of a shockingly evil and satanic murder spree in the toxic wastelands of Southern America. The show explores the bleakest existence of humanity in its many corrosive characters, but the central pairing is an absolute masterstroke of casting and guides us through the dark, often existential themes of the story.

Every element, from the brooding soundtrack to the menacing scenery of the endlessly murky Louisiana swampland – perfectly reflecting its troubled inhabitants – is meticulously crafted to enhance our total immersion into the twisted world of the show. The atmosphere throughout the series, as we are brought along in the hunt for an elusive serial killer (that spans almost twenty years), is utterly, utterly intoxicating.

The two leads give flawless, career best performances across the multiple timelines. Their on-screen bond and contribution to the show is spellbinding and the fact that both actors are also producers on the show displays a giant level of investment and just how much this project meant to both of them. They are truly electrifying until the final, excruciatingly tense showdown.

There have been two seasons since this monumental achievement of storytelling, and they both faced the impossible task of following in the footsteps of a true modern televisual masterpiece. They are both entirely new and separate stories and were cursed to forever be in the shadow of the first outing, like the classic difficult second album of so many hugely successful bands. The second season was disappointing on the whole, but season three marked an excellent return to form.

The first season of True Detective is about as close to a perfect TV series as you can get. There is no let-up in tension over eight wonderful and richly crafted episodes. I urge anybody who hasn’t yet seen it to get watching ASAP and I will forever be wishing I could once more experience the series again for the first time.

Words by Ed Budds

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