A True Detective recap, or why the internet nearly ruined this show
I am a fan of the programming on HBO.
It probably started by watching Sex and The City with girls in college (a terrible choice on multiple levels) and then moved onto Entourage (arguably a terrible choice) which is still a very guilty pleasure of mine. I love Band of Brothers, The Pacific, John Adams, and many more of the mini-series made possible by HBO. Factor in shows like The Wire, The Sopranos, Game of Thrones, The Newsroom, Real Sports, Boardwalk Empire, Treme, even Real Time with Bill Maher, and you’ve got some of the best story-telling available on one channel.
HBO is no longer the only game in town (AMC, Netflix, Amazon, Showtime, Starz, FX, USA, History, A&E, HGtv, Bravo, E!, etc.) but it still reigns supreme in many ways, most notably in the amount cable viewers pay to subscribe to its programming.
Earlier this year, HBO began promoting a new drama titled True Detective. The premise for the show was unprecedented in TV. A single writer would write the show, and a single director would direct every episode. Although the season would be only eight episodes, it would represent a major shift in how viewers watch a show. The main cast, Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson along with many others, would only be committed for one season. Any additional seasons would take place with a new cast, in a new setting, and possibly a different time period.
Buzz around the show was helped in large part by the resurgence of McConaughey (and Harrelson to some degree) and the inclusion of Cary Joji Fukunaga as director.
I loved this show. It’s been my favorite HBO project ever, and I looked forward to the ending of the first season more than any show I’ve seen in a long time. This includes Breaking Bad, LOST, Seinfeld, and I expect it will tower over the pending conclusion to Mad Men.
My problem: the internet very nearly ruined this show. Allow me a moment to explain.
Unless one completely avoids the internet, we are bound to run across prognostications about our favorite entertainment options. Whether TV, Movies, Music, or other art forms, it seems every entertainment/culture writer has an opinion. (Yes, I understand the irony in making that last statement. Moving on.)
The issue with isn’t with these folks having an opinion. It’s that they feel compelled to share those opinion, along with their predictions for what the show holds in the future. This is where the show was nearly ruined.
When a show like True Detective comes along, it welcomes hyper-analysis of the content and clues potentially hidden within the the context of the show. As the final episode drew near it seems every website or culture blog had its own litany of predictions for what could possibly happen. Everyone wanted to be the one who figured it out beforehand.
I won’t go into greater detail because I don’t wish to ruin the outcome of the show for anyone. In my opinion, the prognosticators and culture writers were way off the rails. And that’s why the internet almost ruined this show for me (and for many others). A story written months ago was placed under the microscope of the internet, and when theory after theory didn’t match up with the actual story, people somehow felt slighted that their (often insane or illogical) theories didn’t pan out.
Writers/bloggers want to be first to the story, the first to predict the outcome. “I knew it was coming…” blah blah blah. Just let the shows play out. They will either be good or bad, and the viewers can make those decisions on their own. I don’t need the culture blogger for Slate to tell me if the ending was satisfactory. I can determine that for myself.