Top of the Lake was one of the most notable breakthroughs in television of the last five years, a masterwork of tone, suspense, and cinematography that upended the routinely sexist murder-mystery genre. The Sundance Channel miniseries starred Elisabeth Moss as a Sydney detective returning to her hometown in rural New Zealand to investigate the missing-person case of a pregnant 12-year-old girl. It also focused on the turf wars between the disappeared girl’s crime family and a group of eccentric separatist feminists led by an enigmatic guru (played with exacting toughness by Holly Hunter). Moss’ superb turn garnered her a Golden Globe win and an Emmy nod, while the series won a technical Emmy for best cinematography.
Top of the Lake‘s exquisitely moody visuals and feminist revision of the murder mystery were highly welcome and hardly surprising, since one of its creators, writers, and main directors was Jane Campion. (Her co-creator and co-writer is Gerard Lee; Gareth Davis helmed some of the episodes.) So news that the UK and Australian production company See-Saw is bringing Campion and Lee back to develop a second season is wonderful news.
Last year, Campion told the Telegraph, “Television is the new frontier. Film is conservative. I’m sick of it.” She recalled, “We were told by Ben Stephenson [the BBC’s head of drama] to be as outrageous as we wanted. No holds barred. … We were like, ‘Are you ready for us? Well, we’re ready for that!’ There were far fewer constraints than making a feature film.”