Even though I wish it were back for Season 2 already, there's part of me that's glad that True Detective hasn't started Season 2 yet — and that is because Mad Men is on, and all that speculating and extensive review-reading would make my brain explode. That said, I love True Detective and Mad Men for different but both equally personal reasons: True Detective because I love true crime ALL the time, and Mad Men because it's the most beautifully written show I've ever seen. But even though one is a gritty, neo-noir miniseries about terrible, satanic crimes and the other is about an ad man with good suits and bad secrets, there are more parallels between True Detective and Mad Men than you would think.
And it's not just because they're both about bad men. Jokes aside, though, both shows have extremely complex frameworks and heavy themes that are expounded on through endless symbolism, that gets kind of annoying when you have to pay attention to everything, like what colors everybody's wearing. But it's a small price to pay to be blessed with both, and here's a look at how they're not so far in the TV universe, after all.
Those Ominous Intros
By now, the animated shot of the back of Don Draper's head and his fall from a skyscraper in the Mad Men opening credits is iconic. On the other hand, True Detective's intro is a little more literal about how gruesome and dark the show is going to be. However, both sequences have a pretty palpable sense of death hanging over them (especially as Mad Men has become increasingly morbid, to the point that now every single scene seems like a parable of Don's obsession with death and doom).
All That Philosophical Talk
Don Draper (aka Dick Whitman) and Rust Cohle are two of the weirdest, most opaque, and best characters on TV. And they both LOVE to muse vaguely and expose their exasperation with the world they believe to be meaningless. (And I'm SURE they are both bad at parties.) Who said it: Don Draper, or Rust Cohle?
Did You Read The Books?
Mad Men LOVES to hide meaning in the books the characters are reading — especially when Don was casually reading Dante's Inferno on a trip to Hawaii when he could have been hanging with his hot wife, Megan. And True Detective has its reading material, too: the show alludes to Robert W. Chambers' The King In Yellow from 1895, a collection of short stories that are full of grim horror and set in (gasp!) Carcosa.
Not So Easy On The Girls
It's sad when sexism is something that binds two shows together, but so it goes. Mad Men, despite having some of the greatest feminist characters on television right now (and which continues to utterly exceed the Bechdel test), still shows an ugly, pervasive environment of sexism sadly reminiscent of the time the show takes place in. True Detective, beloved and well-done as it is really dropped the ball on its female characters (and the way they treated women in general) throughout Season 1. Hopefully they're gonna make up for it in Season 2 with the addition of Rachel McAdams as a badass cop.
Maybe so, but that doesn't mean you don't have time for a haircut...
The Best TV Ever
Face it: we're not gonna see shows like True Detective or Mad Men again for a long, long time. Enjoy 'em while you can.
Images: HBO, AMC, Giphy (5).