Season four of ‘True Detective’ takes refreshing feminine perspective

I never watched the first three seasons of “True Detective” because I always thought of it as a “man show” – and I’ve always been unsure of what I meant by that, until I listened to the first episode of the “True Detective: Night Country Podcast.” 

Executive producer Mari-Jo Winkler said, “Let’s look at season one of ‘True Detective.’ Hot, sweaty, male. We wanted to do [the] complete opposite. Dark, Ice, Cold.” 

Any critical thinker would understand that no television show is strictly for men or women, but the internet is not home to many critical thinkers. “True Detective: Night Country” has been subject to many heated debates online over its quality, including reproval from the acclaimed creator of the series, Nic Pizzolatto, who did not have any involvement with “True Detective: Night Country.” 

There is much I admire about the show. I thought the acting was captivating and the dialogue was believable, which is one of the popular critiques. Some believed it wasn’t “serious” enough for the tone of the “True Detective” series.

He criticized the fourth season in many now deleted Instagram posts, but one still remains — a sarcastic post he created as an outlet for “trolling/support/infighting around True Detective and the absolute moral degeneracy and misogyny of anyone who did not think it was good.”

Pizzolatto’s aggravation comes in response to his inability, and the inability of other men like him, to criticize the show without being deemed misogynistic.

What these online arguments fail to do is contemplate the themes of the show and why it is different from the other seasons.

I’ve been disheartened by the instant hatred for the show, as I found it to be an interesting character study of two unconventionally feminine women and the complicated problems of the community they ultimately want to protect.

“True Detective: Night Country” takes place in the fictional town of Ennis, Alaska, inspired by the real northernmost town of Utqiagvik, Alaska above the Arctic Circle.

The show begins with the mysterious vanishing of male scientists at the Solal Lab, a research facility studying the Arctic’s geology, biology and mining’s potential impact on climate change. Jodie Foster’s character, detective Liz Danvers, heads the investigation.

The discovery of an Indigenous woman’s tongue at Solal Lab reunites Danvers with detective Evangeline Navarro (Kali Reis), who has harbored efforts to solve the cold case murder of Annie Maso Kotak, an Indigenous woman and midwife of Ennis. 

As Danvers puts it, “She’s got this thing for women who get hurt.” 

There is much I admire about the show. I thought the acting was captivating and the dialogue was believable, which is one of the popular critiques. Some believed it wasn’t “serious” enough for the tone of the “True Detective” series.

I do think some abstract questions were left unanswered in the end, but I’m not bothered by ambiguity.

The resentment towards “True Detective: Night Country” online is a result of the “wokeness” threat. “True Detective: Night Country’s” director, Issa López, tweeted in response to suspected review bombing, “The bros and hardcore fanboys of [Season 1] have made it a mission to drag the rating down.” Her response was gold for anti-woke internet users. 

The first season aired almost a decade ago in 2014. Much has changed in our culture since, with the inclusion of female leads in traditionally masculine roles being one of those things.  

It upsets some people when a show adopts the perspective of a non-male character, as if the show is now making a statement when it is only espousing a new perspective. That is the essence of storytelling, after all. 

None of us are immune to subconscious misogyny. I was under the impression “True Detective” was made for men because I never saw a woman in the advertisements. 

There are moments in the show when the male characters want to make the wrong decisions regarding the investigation and Danvers corrects them. The show’s antagonists are men, but López isn’t suggesting all men are inherently evil or pushing that narrative. 

“Stories are stories,” as Danvers says in the final episode. 

Plus, the motives of López and her team are accessible. The companion podcast is an in-depth yet easily listenable resource that explains the differences. 

In my opinion, there is always a call for difference. As watchers, readers and listeners, if we really care about a story, we want to know why differences occur and understand the lens through which we are viewing a story. That is what critical thinking is and what the internet allows us to lack.


4/5 stars


Featured photo courtesy of @truedetective, Instagram