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We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

TV Series Review

There is a darkness out there—a cold, hard, crushing blackness that crawls and gasps in society's cobwebbed corners. It may appear in the flickering shadows of the Louisiana bayou or on the sundrenched streets of Los Angeles.

And when that darkness is almost too bleak to be imagined, you can be sure that True Detective has already shaped a season around it, bringing it right into your living room.

True Detective's first-season tagline was "Man is the cruelest animal." And the series may be television's cruelest show.

True Prestige

This HBO drama switches casts and storylines from season to season: Matthew McConaughey used his starring turn in the first season to begin his "McConaissance"; Oscar-winner Mahershala Ali fronts its third. But no matter who stars, True Detective is a brooding work of prickly horror.

In Season 3, Ali plays a guy named Wayne Hays traveling three separate timelines: The first and most important one takes place in 1980, when he's an Arkansas state police detective. He's working a case with partner Roland West involving the mysterious abduction of two small-town children. One, 12-year-old Will Purcell, is soon found dead. The other, his 10-year-old sister, Julie, who's gone missing. Ten years later, Hays is called back in to recount the case to district officials, who tell him that Julie is apparently alive. In 2015, Hays is again called upon to recall his involvement in the horrific case to people who appear to be producing a true-crime documentary.

Throughout, we see Hays grow and age, finding and losing a wife, raising and alienating at least one of his children, slowly sinking into forgetfulness and dementia. And while the third season doesn't seem to have the deeply weird, supernatural elements of its predecessors, True Detective has lost none of its grim tone and sense of ongoing tragedy, the ripples of which are felt throughout family and community, year after year—even if it offers the hope of a fitting, redemptive finale.

True Detective has had an uneven history since its wildly praised first season, but there's no mistaking the makers' aspiration in creating it and HBO's desire in airing it. This has all the earmarks of prestige television: intricate writing; solid acting; dancing and diving storylines; and, of course, deeply problematic content.

True Depravity

True Detective is as violent and profane as any show on television. If its characters aren't hopping into bed with someone, they're likely shooting or beating someone else. The f-word flies as frequently as the gore. As well-constructed as this series may be, it's hard to believe that any narrative payoff could be worth such a twisted and terrible ride.

In an episode from Season 1, Marty (a detective played by Woody Harrelson) tells Rust (Matthew McConaughey) why he left the police force. During a case, Marty discovered that a disturbed mother had tried to dry off her infant in a microwave oven. We watch as Marty opens the oven and stares, aghast. Sick.

"I didn't want to look at anything like that anymore," he says.

We might well say the same thing.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

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Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Feb. 24, 2019: "Now Am Found"
Jan. 13, 2019: "The Great War and Modern Memory"
True Detective - July 12, 2015: "Down Will Go"
True-Detective: 3-2-2014



Readability Age Range



(Season One) Matthew McConaughey as Rust Cohle; Woody Harrelson as Marty Hart; Michelle Monaghan as Maggie Hart; Michael Potts as Maynard Gilbough; Tory Kittles as Thomas Papania

(Season Two) Colin Farrell as Det. Ray Velcoro; Rachel McAdams as Det. Ani Bezzerides; Taylor Kitsch as Paul Woodrugh; Vince Vaughn as Frank Semyon; Kelly Reilly as Jordan Semyon

(Season 3) Mahershala Ali as Wayne Hays; Carmen Ejogo as Amelia Reardon; Stephen Dorff as Roland West; Scoot McNairy as Tom; Ray Fisher as Henry Hays; Mamie Gummer as Lucy Purcell; Josh Hopkins as Jim Dobkins; Jodi Balfour as Lori; Deborah Ayorinde as Becca Hayes






Record Label




On Video

Year Published



Paul Asay

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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