In 2014, Nic Pizzolatto had people hooked on his popular detective series True Detective. To date, it has received seven Emmy Award nominations and won four.
Each season of the anthology crime drama follows a different mystery across eight episodes and features new cast and characters, but it's the twisting, mystical-tinged first season starring Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey that really set the bar.
What is True Detective about?
Season one follows Rust Cole and Marty Hart as they investigate the 1995 murder of Dora Lange, a prostitute killed in Louisiana, over a 17-year period. The series is consistently dark but fantastic central performances make it a compelling watch.
The first series is told through a non-linear narrative which uses shifts in time to keep the viewer guessing and grapples with transcendental themes.
Season two follows the interwoven stories of several police officers and criminals in the town of Vinci. When corrupt official Ben Caspere is found dead at the side of the highway, things go downhill fast.
Season three sees detectives Wayne Hayes and Roland West hunt for three missing children in the Ozarks.
Where can I watch True Detective?
Where is True Detective filmed?
True Detective season one was filmed in Louisiana over a three-month period.
Season two was shot in California, but specifically avoided shooting in Los Angeles. Series creator Nic Pizzolatto told podcast To the Best of Our Knowledge about the choice: “Not Los Angeles, but some of the much lesser-known venues of California. And we’re going to try to capture a certain psycho-sphere ambiance of the place, much like we did in season one”.
Season three was shot in Arkansas, with locations including Fayetteville, Mount Sequoyah, Bentonville, Lincoln, Rogers and Springdale.
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How many seasons are there of True Detective? How many episodes?
There are three seasons of True Detective, with the central cast changing in each new season. Each season has eight episodes.
Who is in the cast of True Detective?
The first season stars Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson as troubled detective duo Rust Cole and Marty Hart.
Season two stars Colin Farrell, as Detective Ray Velcoro and Rachel McAdams as Detective Sergeant Antigone Bezzerides. Taylor Kirsch also features as Officer Paul Woodrugh. Though typically associated with comedy, Vince Vaughn arguably steals the show as gangster Frank Semyon. Kelly Reilly plays his wife, Jordan Semyon.
Season three stars Mahershala Ali as Wayne Hayes and Stephen Dorff as Roland West.
True Detective reviews and reaction
Season one was the most successful with critics and audiences. Cary Joji Fukunaga directed the first season but for the second season took on the role of executive producer. Stars Harrelson and McConaughey also shifted into executive producer roles and many critics argued the second season was worse as a result.
Season three also struggled critically, Sonia Saraiya, of Vanity Fair, wrote: “Now that we’re on the other side of Season 3, the time I spent watching True Detective doesn’t feel justified. The season had its moments, but it felt more like a vehicle for delivering a type of experience — the True Detective experience — than a discrete story divided into eight instalments. What’s good about this show is almost entirely eclipsed by what doesn’t work.”
It seems follow up seasons never got out of the critically-acclaimed shadow of season one.