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The idea of good and bad being ambiguous and complicated ideas rather than ones set in stone has been a little more prominent on television in recent years, with antiheroes like Nucky Thompson, Walter White, and Bill Henrickson finding their way into viewers' hearts. On Sunday, HBO debuted the first trailer for True Detective, and it offers a murder mystery as well as two leads that converse about what it means to be a “bad man” and where they stand in society.
At the beginning of the trailer, Matthew McConaughey’s Rust Cohle is driving and attempting to light a cigarette when fellow detective Martin Hart (Woody Harrelson) asks, “Do you wonder ever if you’re a bad man?” Not skipping a beat, Cohle responds, “The world needs bad men,” and finishes lighting his cigarette as a flourish to his point. Soon after, the conversation ends. It’s a short one, but it manages to set the tone for HBO’s 8-part event series, which is set against the barren landscape of rural Louisiana and a series of murders committed by a serial killer.
The whole thing is eerie and shot in muted tones, making sunshine in Louisiana seem like a rare phenomenon. While we get to see a lot of landscape shots, we also get to spend time with Hart as he spends time with his family. Cohle seems to be a little more of a lone wolf personality, but the series will follow a case that begins in 1995 and runs into 2012, which means the show will have quite the saga to tell, especially in only eight episodes. Storytelling from the period where the men are actively catching the killer as well as when the case is re-opened in 2012 will be used and the trailer kind-of gives us an idea of exactly how that the 1995 and 2012 narratives will be woven into one seamless story.
Besides the interesting format, the acting should be top notch. Harrelson’s always been a man who has kind of done whatever he wants, popping up in roles as varied as a gay sports writer in Friends with Benefits and as a rotoscoped drug addict in A Scanner Darkly. However, McConaughey’s only managed to shake his reputation as a hunky male lead in romantic comedies over the last couple of years, taking roles in films like The Lincoln Lawyer, Magic Mike, and even exploring southern lifestyles and landscapes in last year’s Mud. In the latter, I hardly recognized the actor from How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days and in several parts of the True Detective trailer, his beard and wild-eyed demeanor bear little resemblance to the dashing and handsome man we’re used to. Once upon a time, audiences may have been able to pigeonhole him, but that couldn’t be further from the case now.
True Detective is expected to premiere on HBO in January of 2014. You can check out more at Darkness Becomes You.