What Is True Detective? A Beginner’s Guide to HBO’s Latest Hit
Credit: James Bridge/HBO © 2014 Home Box Office    


What Is True Detective? A Beginner’s Guide to HBO’s Latest Hit

Unless you're too busy contemplating the futility of the universe to pay attention to pop culture, you've probably heard of HBO's newest hit, True Detective. If you’ve somehow managed to avoid having an obsessed fan talk your ear off about the star-studded murder mystery, that will probably change after this Sunday (March 9, 2014), when the first season finishes of its story with an explosive and/or nightmare inducingly creepy finale.

If you don't want to be totally cut out of the conversation, but aren't ready to devote your entire weekend to watching seven hours of gruesome murders and Matthew McConaughey monologues (though why not?), we've got a rundown of the basic plot and a few talking points so you can sound like you're on the up and up — though you still might want to duck out of any water cooler talk before the devoted fans start dissecting the meaning of the spiral drawing on Marty Hart's wall.

What's It About?

True Detective is an eight-episode murder mystery that takes place over the course of 17 years. Back in 1995, main characters Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) and Marty Hart (Woody Harrelson) investigated and "solved" a bizarre murder — only it turns out that in 2012, there is another murder that bears a striking resemblance to the first one. Did they not really solve it after all? It would appear there is a greater conspiracy at work...

Who Are the Main Characters?

There are really only three people you'll hear people talking a lot about:

Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey). Rust is a nihilist. He likes to spout depressing philosophy. A lot. But he's usually the smartest guy in the room, and might just be the only one who really sees what's going on.

Marty Hart (Woody Harrelson). Marty seems like your regular old family man, but his anger issues and clear Madonna/whore complex about women means he has a disturbing dark side.

Maggie Hart (Michelle Monaghan). Marty's ex-wife — they were together in 1995, but split in 2002.

What's This "Yellow King" I Keep Hearing About?

You'll hear people talking about the "Yellow King." That's the mysterious name connected with what most people assume is the killer. There's probably a satanic cult involved. Yeah, this show is dark.

Some Talking Points

Want to be able to start a conversation or two? Here are some talking points that don't require a lot of plot knowledge:

  • All of the women on this show are either wives, strippers, or whores. Is it anti-feminist, or just portraying the effects of a misogynistic world?

  • Man, Matthew McConaughey sure has had a career resurgence, right? He just won an Oscar, and he'll probably win an Emmy for this, too. Did you ever see that coming?

  • Who should they cast in Season 2? Every season is going to be a totally new story with a new plot, so you can argue passionately for your favorite actors without knowing anything about this season!

Are you going to check True Detective out? Let us know in the comment below!

Rebecca Martin is an Associate Editor at Wetpaint Entertainment and our resident Game of Thrones, Pretty Little Liars, and genre TV expert. Follow her on Twitter and Google+!

03.7.2014 / 12:00 AM EDT by Rebecca Martin
Related: TV, Features, True Detective

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