How Each Season Of True Detective Is Defined By Its Location

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Written By Sedoso Feb

In the original season of “True Detective,” the Louisana Bayou acts as a pressure cooker for Detective Rust Cohle (McConnaughey) and Detective Marty Hart (Harrelson) as they try to uncover a decades-long mystery involving a sinister cult. The sweeping exterior shots take in murky swamps, dilapidated houses, and decaying industrial complexes. The backwoods are deep and thorny, so far removed from society that their denizens can easily commit heinous acts. It’s an intense locale marred by sweltering heat and rapid decline. “Place is going to be underwater within 30 years,” Rust remarks. It looks and feels like hell on earth, which perfectly matches Rust’s nihilistic view of the world.

“True Detective” season 2 traded rural poverty for the expansive urban setting of Southern California. Through sleek, noir-inspired visuals, we explore both the glamour and the grit of Hollywood through various locations, from seedy strip clubs to Malibu beaches, ritzy casinos, and sprawling Pasadena mansions. It’s a world of bright neon lights and long, dark highways. The story of a high-speed rail line hints at forging connections between the coastal locale’s disparate ways of life.

The Ozarks provided a more bucolic setting for “True Detective” season 3. The dense forests, sparkling waterfalls, and vast mountains that border the small town of West Finger, Arkansas, have a captivating yet eerie natural beauty. These picturesque surroundings provide a striking contrast to the sinister crimes involving young children that took place there. The labyrinthine, tangled woods can also be seen as a metaphor for Detective Hays’ (Mahershala Ali) confused mind and fading memory as he struggles to recall a case that spans back to the 1980s.

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