“True Detective” makes us wonder: Is Los Angeles totally unlovable?
In this installment of Green Screen, we highlight the greenest parts of your favorite TV guilty pleasures (spoiler: There are a lot of them!).
Why are we jumping in on the True Detective commentary train on the second episode of the second season, you ask? To be honest, I wasn’t quite sure that it wouldn’t be too much of a train wreck to bear sticking with for a whole season. And many people are firmly sticking to their preconceptions that this season of True Detective is a poorly cast, disastrously pale imitation of its antecedent. Those people, in my opinion, are going to be proven wrong — just like people who say they hate Los Angeles without ever having visited the city for longer than, like, the duration of a flight layover.
Which brings us to my point: The first season of True Detective was committed to creating characters so reprehensible and deeply fucked-up that you couldn’t help but love them, sort of. This season blesses us with a similarly unpleasant and morally bankrupt cast, and introduces a whole new specie of unpalatable character: Los Angeles itself.
The first two episodes are built on sweeping shots of endless urban sprawl, trails of crawling cars on beige highways, and more hazy industrial zones than you’d think would fit within the state of California. It looks like a pretty convincing dystopia — because, well, it’s real. The season’s plot is built on the corrupt incorporated city of Vinci: a tiny, gross pocket of Los Angeles County, home to 75 residents and a whole lot of toxic waste.
The tagline for Season 2, in case you were looking for a little more subtlety, is: “We Get The World We Deserve.” In other words: We built this horrific, carbon-belching, industrial quagmire, so we have to live in it. And even when we try to fix the mess we made, we get told to fuck off — cut to Colin Farrell’s character yelling in half-hearted Spanish to a group of kids to stop playing in a pool of industrial waste, and getting flicked off in return.
With every character as flat-eyed as the traffic they’re trapped in, True Detective really drives home how much the places we live in become part of us. The real question is: Can the show do what it did with Rust and Marty last season and make us appreciate the dirty, soulless character of L.A. for what it is? Check back with us next week to find out!