Quentin Tarantino’s not a Fan of True Detective. At Least Not the Trailer, Anyway.


Quentin Tarantino is one of the more opinionated filmmakers working today. He frequently weighs in on movies and television and even compiles a yearly list of his top 10 favorite films. In a recent interview with New York Magazine he discussed a variety of subjects ranging from modern film trends to 90’s nostalgia, but when it came to the topic of television, True Detective touched a nerve.

"“I tried to watch the first episode of season one, and I didn’t get into it at all. I thought it was really boring. And season two looks awful. Just the trailer — all these handsome actors trying to not be handsome and walking around looking like the weight of the world is on their shoulders. It’s so serious, and they’re so tortured, trying to look miserable with their mustaches and grungy clothes.”"

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It isn’t surprising that the dialogue-centric director wasn’t a fan of True Detective. Tarantino is many things, but “terse” is not one of them. Enter Rustin Cohle and Martin Hart, two of the least loquacious characters in recent television. Martin often communicates in a look or a phrase what Tarantino might say in a three-page monologue, but that shouldn’t detract from his point.

Tarantino’s critique of True Detective season two – or at least of the trailer – was largely based on aesthetic. He threw around words like “tortured” and “miserable” to describe the actors’ comportment, disliking just how sullen everyone seemed to be, and he wasn’t alone. Again, this shouldn’t come as a surprise from the guy who invented the “cinema of cool.”

A look through his catalogue doesn’t reveal a single character that suffers from chronic despair. It’s just not in his emotional lexicon. Characters endure trying experiences (The Bride in Kill Bill, Marsellus Wallace in Pulp Fiction) but never lose themselves to anguish; they rise above it. That’s what we expect of our protagonists because it’s what we want to believe of ourselves: beat the bad guy, get the girl, and ride off into the sunset.

True Detective gave us world-worn protagonists whose weaknesses ultimately brought them down

True Detective does the opposite. Instead of giving audiences what they want, strong characters that endure hardship but eventually come out on top, True Detective gave us world-worn protagonists whose weaknesses ultimately brought them down. Ray is betrayed by a relationship he cannot have, Paul is executed for a truth he cannot hide, and Frank is gutted by his pride.

It seems as though the famed director simply didn’t feel that True Detective was worth his time, preferring instead to watch shows like Justified and How I Met Your Mother. He hasn’t had a lot of time to watch much of anything lately as he’s been busy finishing his new film The Hateful Eight (premiering this December!) Whether you agree with him or not, Quentin Tarantino is one of those juggernauts of cinema that demands to be heard, and this time his opinion rests with the majority.

Next: This Week in True Detective: The Summer of True Detective.