“True Detective” wants to remind us that sometimes L.A. is just the worst
In this installment of Green Screen, we highlight the greenest parts of your favorite TV guilty pleasures (spoiler: There are a lot of them!).
Last week, we asked the question: Can True Detective make us love Los Angeles for all its smoggy flaws, as it has done for its previous despicable protagonists? Last week, we felt optimistic — perhaps it was because the sun was shining, a long weekend was on the horizon, and we were giddy at the prospect and promise of a renewed relationship with a well.
This week, we feel differently.
Let’s recall from last week’s episode: Ani is driving around the barren streets of L.A., sucking on her miserable e-cig, ruefully contemplating the unstoppable flow of newcomers to La La Land. Why have they come to this godforsaken place? Ani wonders. These poor, disenfranchised people — what do they do? Where do they live?
The answer is pretty clear: Wherever they can. Tent cities under the freeway are a dismal but apparently inescapable product of poorly managed urban expansion (as has been shown right here in our hometown of Seattle). When Ani, in pursuit of a suspect in a Dollar Tree kabuki mask, runs head on into an encampment that serves as home to some of Los Angeles’ many displaced, she literally leaves it to burn after her quarry sets it on fire, as if to say “Fuck it — there’s crime on the run!!”
It’s an apt metaphor for what this episode did to any promising developments in the one prior. The third episode of this blighted season centers around the parts of L.A. — and American culture in general — that are far, far uglier than mere freeways and industrial pollution: cheap clubs selling imported prostitutes alongside whiskey doubles, over-the-top productions of post-apocalypse blockbusters, and hideous Bel Air mansions with condom-filled pools (they may not seem to give a shit about the drought, but at least they’re using protection!).
So — can True Detective help us find anything to appreciate about its most interesting character and one of America’s most-hated cities? Last week, the answer was: Maybe! This week: No, it truly is loathsome. Check back with us next week to see if things get any better!