Sunday, January 12, 2014

Tonight... on HBO

Tonight two shows premiere on HBO: one a brand new anthology series, the other a much-anticipated return.

True Detective is the hotly tipped new series that stars Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey. It's always a huge deal when movie actors appear on TV shows, even if, in the case of Harrelson, TV is where they got their start. And in the case of True Detective, the hype is entirely deserved. The story is about two detectives, Rust (McConaughey) and Martin (Harrelson) are being interviewed about a case that happened in 1995. Part of the story is set in the present, with the two men being interviewed separately, but the majority of it is set in 1995, where Harrelson and McConaughey are not only playing characters 18 years younger, but doing so believably. Now they're cynical and either part of the system or fighting against it; back then they were thrown together despite kinda hating each other, and that becomes the central story. The actual rape and murder of a young woman found in a weird ritualistic pose right out of Hannibal is secondary to the relationship between these two men — who they were before they met, who they are now that they're together, how they cope with one another... and the mystery that the viewer is forced to ask in every episode: what drove them apart, and what happened during the investigation?

I don't want to say much more than that other than to say this show has smart, witty writing, tour de force performances from Harrelson and McConaughey, and a gripping story of a murder investigation conducted by two polar opposites. This is an anthology series, which means at the end of this season this story will be over and we'll move on to a new cast, new case, new setting. Here's hoping next season can capture some of the magic that this season will.

And in the other corner is Girls. I loved the first season, despite not always liking the characters. By the second season, I kind of despised the characters, due to the fact that none of them has a single redeeming quality. There's Jessa, the self-involved artiste who never thinks of the consequences of her ridiculously selfish actions; Shoshana, the funny one who is almost too silly, incredibly annoying, and often clueless; Marnie, the wince-inducing girl who makes her own bed and then whines about having to lie in it; and at the centre of it all, Hanna, the little girl who refuses to grow up, waltzing around in her little girl clothes and not having one shred of sympathy for any of the troubles going on around her. She's the person who no one would be surprised to hear utter the words, "I'm so sorry about your mother's death, but can we bring this back around to my e-book now?"

And yet... I couldn't stop watching. I hated them — HATED THEM — and if the entire foursome were hit by a city bus, I'd just shrug and think oh well, and hope we could see more of Adam and the other guys, who are far more sympathetic and entertaining. And yet... they make me laugh, and I feel their pain, and they all have human moments, and I think Lena Dunham is a freakin' genius. Do I think she and Hanna are the same? Absolutely not; I think she's purposely created a despicable character because they're so much more fun to explore. Nice girls are boring. I will admit the sudden season 2 introduction of, "Oh look, Hanna has some weird OCD problem and has to be medicated and has a weird neck tic she's never had before and OHMYGOD DID SHE JUST SHOVE A Q-TIP ALL THE WAY IN HER EAR?! (More horrifying to me than anything on The Walking Dead, by the way) seemed completely out of left field, as if Dunham thought that maybe she'd made Hanna SO despicable people would stop watching, so she had to create a problem out of Hanna's hands to try to explain why she seems so incapable of empathy.

And yet... Dunham makes it work. In season 3 the girls are all back together, sort of broken, Hanna is back on her meds, and everything seems like it just might have a whiff of normal until Adam's crazy sister shows up, and then the rollercoaster begins all over again. And in every episode, we see Hanna's tits, and Adam is part sociopath and part puppy dog, and Marnie sings and you are loudly begging her to please stop oh please stop you are embarrassing yourself, and Shoshana talks so fast you think the actress might be some remarkable robot fashioned by her real-life father (David Mamet), who clearly brought her up to perfect the metronome style way of chatter he forces his actors to adopt, and Jessa does something to piss someone off... and you can't wait for the next episode.

Check them out, and let me know what you think!


TerriDufour said...

One other important thing aired on HBO last night. The Game of Thrones trailer- thoughts?

Nikki Stafford said...

SO SO SO GOOD!!!! April is too far away. :)

Anonymous said...

I really liked "True Detective" as well even though in some ways it's just yet another incarnation of the Mismatched Buddy Cop story. I'd watch anything with Woody. This better not turn out to be another The Killing (shudder).

I can't agree with you more about Girls. The only I kind of like is Jessa since she seems to realize how evil she truly is and just doesn't care while the others would be probably be shocked as to how others see them. I don't even find Marnee hot anymore. Jessa is like a supervillan.

-Tim Alan

Colleen/redeem147 said...

According to IMDB (so take it as you will), Matthew McConaughey's first pro job was an episode of Unsolved Mysteries.

I saw the preview for True Detective (don't get HBO Canada) and it looked very good.

Though I looked at the victims and said "Hannibal", which will be back soon.

suzanne said...

I am so glad I checked in with you Nikki. I meant to watch both of these and forgot they were on. I am glad to have HBOgo.

Bill Gilligan said...

Love True Detective & the Game of Thrones trailer.

Can't wait to begin the A Clash of Kings group read!