Sunday, June 8, 2014

Emily Nussbaum: The Shallowness of “True Detective” : The New Yorker

Emily Nussbaum: The Shallowness of “True Detective” : The New Yorker:
HBO's first season sensation "True Detective" is old news by now, but one of the wonders of the internet is that old news items don't simply vanish as they did back in the days of print. Scanning Google for some news on what the  second season of TD might contain, I came across Emily Nussbaum's negative review in last March's New Yorker. As the show has had magnanimous praise from critics high, low and middle, her sour take was an oddity, for me at least. I read  with interest, and she has some points that needed to be made. Briefly, though, EN overplayed her objections.I was nodding when she making her point, but the objections seemed rather conventional. She objects to dead females and shallow naked females, and I can see her point, but the world these two guys are weighing into isn't a pristine , serene paradise, it's ugly, insane, full of the kind of carnal vice and exploitation she is objecting to. I think she is just being a scold.

 And she thinks that Rust's quotable nihiilst philosophizing is trite and premium baloney; I wouldn't argue against that, but this is a television drama, not an ethics lecture, and if Rust's declarations don't hold up under interrogation by professional philosophers, too bad for the philosophers, as that would be a blatant case of missing the point. The point, I submit, is entertainment of a high degree, which True Detective provides.Also, EN is upset that the show is really only about two characters, Rust and Marty, and that it is not an ensemble piece; I submit that good ensemble work requires a more open ended format, a longer season, certainly, and of course, multiple seasons for complexities and interactions of the characters to come to satisfying fruition. This show is a short novel, a James Cain/Hammett/Jim Thompson tale that is terse, sweet, complex in it's compact utility; creator and writer Nic Pizzolato's decision to focus on the the lives of two unlike detectives in the course of their involvement with the case is a smart one; he is getting a good amount of  plausible narrative complexity and nuance from the two of them. It's a smart creative decision.

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