I really liked True Detective, and by the end of last night's wildly entertaining (and fucking terrifying) season finale, it became clear that the show is, at heart, your standard buddy-cop movie. It just happened to be brilliantly crafted, impeccably acted, stretched out to eight hours, and riddled with lots of Cormac McCarthy-style manly manspeak. Just how many buddy-cop clichés does the show hit? I counted. NOTE: Major spoilers included.
1. Mismatched partners who never wanted to be partners to begin with
2. And end up spending more time together than is probably realistic
3. One's a family man. The other? A LONER.
4. Put-upon cop wife who just doesn't get "the job"
5. Asshole police boss (x2)
6. Villain with powerful friends
7. Murder conspiracy plot that could go all the way to the top
8. Loner rebel cop forced to literally turn in his badge and gun
9. Two buddies are discouraged from pursuing the case
10. But they keep pursuing it anyway, even off the job
11. Even though it could get them both killed
12. Long car rides
13. Witnesses scared to talk
14. Biker gangs
15. Normal cop tells weirdo cop just how big of a weirdo he is
16. Cops see things no human being should ever have to see
17. Dead naked women
18. Live naked women
19. Murder scene looks like old music video directed by Matt Mahurin
20. Family-man cop has to deal with insolent children
21. Suspects forcefully interrogated in the box
22. "You two. My office."
23. Final showdown takes place in some kind of creepy abandoned facility
24. Main villain actually some kind of supermonster with gigantism who can only be stopped with a bullet to the skull
25. Heroes both survive what would normally be EXTREMELY fatal injuries, i.e. hatchet wound to the aorta
26. One cop about to get killed by the bad guy is rescued at the last possible second by the other cop, who you thought was TOTALLY incapacitated up until that moment
27. Seemingly dying cop is cradled by other wounded cop (who, despite having a hatchet wound to the aorta, is apparently the less injured one)
28. But they both live!
29. Backup support (cops, firemen, people in helicopters and shit) appears just as the plot has conveniently wrapped up
30. Rebel cop finds way out of the darkness
31. Despite shooting lots of people and breaking numerous law-enforcement procedures, to say nothing of the law itself, two cops walk away from the crime scene totally absolved of everything
The lesson? Even anti-cop shows are cop shows at heart, no matter how ingenious their construction. Genre is a flat circle.