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‘True Detective’ Director Cary Fukunaga Says Clues In The Show Were A Mix Of Intentional & Accidental

'True Detective' Director Cary Fukunaga Says Clues In The Show Were A Mix Of Intentional & Accidental

If you think that we (and the rest of the internet) were gonna stop talking about “True Detective” just because the show is over then you’re about as wrong as the people who thought it was Maggie’s dad all along (seriously, how did that get traction?). While there’s been plenty of talk around here about season 2 and the people who might work on it (here’s five directors we’d like to see in the mix), with the anthology format meaning there’ll be a whole new cast and a new director (or several), we’re also not done thinking about the first season, and nor is director Cary Fukanaga, who talked with Vulture about people’s reactions to the final episode and the season as a whole, notably pushing back against the legions of Chekhov’s gunmen online who insist that every little thing had to tie into the final mystery. 

Fukanaga points out that no one making the thing even noticed a number of the elements that have taken up such bandwith lately, like the fast-food crown and the spiral drawing in Marty’s daughter’s room, and stresses that the show was as much about atmosphere and character as it was about intricate conspiracy. 

“Most of that was definitely deliberate—the lawnmower driving in circles at the end of episode seven, the use of spirals and stars. Some of it wasn’t intentional, like when the truck was driving by and there’s a yellow crown in the background. I’ve been sent a lot of this stuff because my agent is a huge fanboy,” the director explained. “He sent me The Simpsons’ yellow king thing, and the one where the guy has an actual actor playing the yellow king. As much as we in development might have wanted to see the general sort of feeling of conspiracy and learn more about what this cult might have been about, the weight of the story needed to focus on Marty and Rust’s relationship.”

He also makes an altogether fascinating point about where this kind of anticipation arises from, and takes a passing pot-shot at series that release online in one go and invite binge-watching (cough“House of Cards”cough)—or is he envious of the relatively limited insanity such shows inspire?

“The general chatter around those things is great, but it’s probably the kind of chatter that wouldn’t have happened had all those episodes been released at once. The anticipation-speculation that comes with a weekly schedule is a double-edged sword. Because people have more time to talk about things, some crazy ideas get a lot of attention,” he said.

Fukanaga also touches on the experience of working in the eye of the McConaissance storm, delicately refusing to confirm or deny that the (now Oscar-winning, but he wasn’t when the show was shooting) actor went on a vision quest inside Rust’s storage unit, which would have been the mother of all making-of featurettes. Ah well.

The Vulture piece also links to a few bits of the abundant “True Detective” silliness that have sprung up recently, most excellently an ingeniously obvious Yellow King theory, but in case your dark, animal lusts are still not sated, here also is the theme song (The Handsome Family‘s “Far From The Road”) in 8-bit form (via AV Club), as a cock-eyed tribute to a show that spent a lot of time in the ’90s but never got silly-nostalgic about it. 

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Right, the ending revealed most of the clues were arbitrary. Thank you, Cary Fukunaga, for making this show eminently watchable almost up to the end, when it became clear it was a waste of time. Without you and the excellent jobs the cast did, it would not have attracted the audience it did.


Idk the Maggie's dad theory made a lot of sense to me. I'm not totally up in arms that there's a few loose threads left but it does kind of bug that they never fully addressed some of the stuff going on with Marty's older daughter, the five dolls around the Barbie thing especially seemed to suggest a connection to the case so strongly! Oh we'll. Also final note, did anyone else get a strong Roberto Bolano vibe from the show? Aside for the facts that's he has books titled The Savage DETECTIVES and Woes of the TRUE Policeman, I also found the grittiness and mix of genres to be reminiscent of the writer.


i agree with fukunaga with the binge-watching phenomena. it lessens the impact on the viewer. serial fiction works best – hell, ALL fiction – when the reader/viewer has time to analyze, reflect, project, and theorize between chapters. when a reader/viewer participates in the mystery or drama of a story in this way, the reader/viewer is much more likely to form an emotional connection with the fiction. speed reading and binge-watching are very suspect phenomena that in no way enhances a of art, imo.

can anyone list the pros of binge-watching, if there are any? i may disagree with them, but i'd like to read some dissenting opinions.

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