Kameron Hurley gives a very erudite breakdown of True Detective‘s misogyny.
True Detective was a bit of a love/hate thing for me. The first four episodes had me absolutely enthralled; from the gritty visuals to the mythos references to Rust’s self-aware nihilism. But the show sort of fell apart in the last half, mostly because–as Hurley identifies–it pulled too many punches with its monster protagonists, Marty in particular.
Make no mistake: Marty is a monster. If you don’t read him as such… er. Well. I probably can’t help you. But he’s definitely a monster, a hollow black hole of bile and sexual violence covered by a thin mask of patriarchal civility. Rust is also monstrous, but he’s aware of it and, moreover, so are other people. Marty is the socially acceptable monster, the evil men excuse because they don’t realise just how loathsome it is. Because it doesn’t hurt them. Marty’s attitudes towards his wife and daughter do, after all, come from the same place the as the crimes of the show’s villains. That void-soaked gyre of dehumanisation and privilege, of the ability to see people as prizes and property. Things to use and control.
True Detective might be able to forgive Marty. But I couldn’t. And that, to me, made the ending more horrific than all the murders in all the previous episodes combined. Because Marty’s horror is real, it’s the banal terror every woman lives with every day, knowing the odds not just of her own victimisation, but of the forgiveness that society will grant to her victimiser.
It’s also the sort of thing I like to watch (or read, or play) trashy horror noire to escape.
So… I don’t know. I’ll probably give True Detective another season; it’s slick, and its anthology format means we’ll hopefully get a better protagonist next round. But… I don’t hold out much hope. Particularly given the alternatives on offer right now, specifically Hannibal (a show that goes out of its way not to sexualise gendered violence) and American Horror Story (which is much more up front and unforgiving about men being the monsters in the lives of women).
I don’t watch a lot of TV as it is. I don’t need shows that are only going to disappoint me.
(Also, don’t even get me started on Rust’s last minute conversion to religiosity. It’s like… are you kidding? You stare into the heart of Grim Carcosa and that’s what you come out with? Gods. Ambrose Bierce is rolling in his grave, I swear!)