Hashtag and you shall receive: Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson had barely faded from the screen when fans of the first season of HBO’s True Detective started fantasy casting season two. Today, The Nerdist is reporting that Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty, The Help, the shiny, flowing hair of a little mermaid) has been officially offered a leading role in the next installment of Nic Pizzolatto’s crime series.
Chastain has yet to accept, but the offer is reason enough to get excited. One, because what’s the point of obsessing over TV (or, as the HBO case may be, “not TV”) if we aren’t going to get all revved up about the hypothetical cast of a yet-to-be-filmed program? The teaser we already have for what to expect, from an interview Pizzolatto did with HitFlix, is already bizarre and amazing: expect a show about “hard women, bad men and the secret occult history of the United States transportation system.” Especially a show like True Detective, which had plenty of good and some glimmering moments of great: the stunning cinematography, the ambitious, wild, weird writing, the searing performances by even the women, who were saddled with material far beneath their abilities. The much-lauded series had some major flaws, though, almost all of which came down to how women were treated and depicted on the show.
CREDIT: Jim Bridges/Associated Press
To even call the female characters “characters” is a bit of an insult to the concept of a character; characters are three-dimensional. They have personalities, wants (even if it is only a glass of water), complicated inner lives, etc. The ladies of True Detective weren’t humans so much as they were tropes—the wife, the mistress, the prostitute, the daughters, the (conveniently naked) corpse—with little to do besides have sex with, or be naked in front of, or be rescued and/or have their murder mysteries solved by our leading men. For a hot second, it seemed we’d get something fascinating and substantive out of the problems Marty (Harrelson) had with his daughters, whose names I cannot remember without the aid of a search engine, but their purpose was flirted with and then dropped, unresolved. I looked it up for you: Audrey, the older daughter, was drawing pornographic doodles as a child and just about diagrammed the crime scene in her bedroom with dolls. She wound up having nothing to do with resolving the crime at the center of the show. Instead, she’s the victim of statutory rape by two men at once; Marty slaps her and calls her the “captain of the varsity slut team” (pots and kettles, kids) and again: we learn nothing from this encounter, except that Marty is a victim-blaming jerk, who of course we are supposed to like at the end of it all because the most important love in the land of True Detective is bromance.
Here’s hoping this potential casting announcement is a Pizzolatto and his team at HBO know where they need to start if they want the second season to improve upon the first, and everything will be alright, alright, alright.