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Why Some True Detective Fans Gave Up On Season 2

The second season of "True Detective" aired on HBO in 2015, but it was saddled with great expectations from the get-go. The critically acclaimed first season set a very high bar, after all. In that debut season, Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey portrayed a pair of Louisiana detectives who chop up beer cans and mutter philosophical musings while on the hunt for a vicious killer. As Rotten Tomatoes points out, their performances are still very highly regarded among critics and fans alike, with the season boasting a 99% audience score.

The sophomore season is a different story. Swapping the Southern Gothic spookiness of the first season for Los Angeles noir, the story follows the interweaving tales of California cops played Colin Farrell, Vince Vaughn, Taylor Kitsch, and Rachel McAdams as they investigate (and commit) crimes in The Golden State. There's no denying that the cast of Season 2 is on par with Harrelson and McConaughey in terms of star power, but something about the Season 2 story paired with this A-list cast didn't seem to click in the same way.

Ultimately, Season 2 failed to live up to expectations and was criticized for being too predictable, per Rotten Tomatoes. Fans of the show weren't happy with how the second installment turned out, but what were their main issues with it?

The biggest problems with True Detective Season 2

Following the success of "True Detective" Season 1 was never going to be easy, but many fans of the show felt the follow-up episodes missed the mark entirely — especially when it came to the story and characters. On a 2019 pos shared to the r/television subreddit, a user by the name of u/FlowersByTheStreet noted, "[The] plot is nearly incomprehensible without a guide" and discussed finding humor in the "poorly telegraphed motivations and events that actually take place." The same user was also critical of the show's criminals and cops, describing them as "one-dimensional grimdark cutouts" who are impossible to take seriously as their personal lives are beset by countless tragedies and nothing to ground them.

On that same post, Redditor u/cefriano was also critical of the story, characters, and dialogue, claiming that the season had "potential" but failed to execute it. Furthermore, the forum user felt that they tried to bring back elements from Season 1 that worked, only to mishandle them as a result. "Vince Vaughn's 'water stain' monologue was hilariously bad," they wrote. "It's like they took Rust's insufferable pontificating [from Season 1] and made every character speak that way."

Other fans felt the second installment wanted to replicate Matthew McConaughey's philosophical character from Season 1, only to suffer missteps along the way. "Yeah, one of my biggest issues with Season 2 is that every character was trying to be Rust Cohle," wrote u/barlow_straker before concluding that there was no "straight-man [in the vein of Woody Harrelson's character] to ground them in reality."