Is Nic Pizzolatto True Detective’s Worst Enemy?


True Detective has always been a noir, psychological, dark experience, and it’s all been helmed by creator and writer Nic Pizzolatto. As season two approaches the end, however, it’s becoming increasingly clear that Pizzolatto may, at times, be True Detective’s greatest hurdle. Even if season two continues to outpace season one in ratings, it still suffers from Pizzolatto’s lack of self-control

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Both the greatest and worst aspects of True Detective, even going back to the first season, is Nic Pizzolatto’s writing. Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson brought the series to life, but it was all based on the backbone of Pizzolatto’s tortured writing. Pizzilatto has a predilection for a particular kind of phrasing and sentence structure. That’s partially why True Detective can be so quotable.

But it’s also what holds him, and to a greater extent, True Detective, back.

This wasn’t a huge problem in True Detective’s first season because we had Marty to act as a sort of stand-in for the audience. In True Detective season two, we have a group of characters that are all more akin to Rust. What that translates to is a lot of head-y, self-important dialogue and no actual relief. True Detective characters love to spit out brooding, philosophical one-liners.

And season two is bogged down with them. In “Other Lives,” Frank utters possibly the most inane line of True Detective dialogue yet: “There’s no bandwidth for that.” He casually throws the line out while having an argument with Jordan. It’s not just a clunky line, but it’s made worse by the fact that it goes unnoticed. There’s nobody to call Frank out on it.

True Detective has is a  and grim affair, but Nic Pizzolatto’s penchant for platitudes makes that even more apparent and sometimes harder to swallow. Real people do not talk the way that Pizzolatto’s character talk, and it certainly doesn’t make them easier to identify with. This wouldn’t be a problem if Nic Pizzolatto showed a little more restraint.

We would argue that True Detective season two is still a great show, just one that took a little longer finding its way. The episode “Down Will Come” remains season two’s greatest episode, and it’s the only episode so far to have a co-writer.

This is why we love True Detective, but it’s also why it can be a frustrating experience. Hopefully in the future Nic Pizzolatto will learn to dial it back. Sometimes.

Next: True Detective's second season ratings are higher than the first.

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