Thirteen Ways to Fill the Flat Circle After Season Two of True Detective

Well, Season Two is over. Whether you are satisfied with the ending or not, chances are that you are a little bummed that you don’t get to watch it next week. Lucky for you, we have a list of things to watch and read if you are a fan of True Detective. Time might be a flat circle, but it doesn’t mean it all has to be the same thing.

Watch David Lynch’s Twin Peaks

If you’re trying to jump straight into another show, especially one with a murder and detectives and dream sequences and unconventional storylines, then here you go. The show is created by genius David Lynch, who also wrote and directed many of the episodes. It’s also populated with dark humor and strange mysteries, some of which, like the mysteries in True Detective, will remain unsolved.

A moment from the Twin Peaks pilot.
A moment from the Twin Peaks pilot.

Watch Bored to Death on HBO

If, on the other hand, you still want mystery but you’re craving some levity after all the murder and collusion and darkness, try Bored to Death. It stars Jason Schwartzman as Jonathan Ames, a struggling writer and Craigslist-using unlicensed private detective, Zach Galifinakis as his illustrator best friend, and Ted Danson as his wealthy, childish, editor boss. Like True Detective, there are disappearances and blackmailers, but the tone is lighter and the jokes abundant. 

They only made three seasons, but they're three great seasons.
They only made three seasons, but they’re three great seasons.

Read The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler

Bored to Death and True Detective share a common inspiring work: the novels of Raymond Chandler. While any of his eight Phillip Marlowe novels can be enjoyed independently, the 1953 novel The Long Goodbye is considered one of the best and was Chandler’s personal favorite. It’s a good place to start. They are true noir, with a charismatic and clever investigator at the center of every scene.  You might want to check this out before Bored to Death, as Ames has stacks of Chandler’s books on his desk and even uses the name of Chandler’s protagonist as his alias.

Chandler - The Long Goodbye

Read Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem

Motherless Brooklyn, like Bored to Death, is a neo-noir tale set in New York City. The protagonist is a young man with Tourette Syndrome trying to solve a mystery. He shares a plight with Ray Velcoro and many of their predecessors in that his case might involve colleagues, friends, and employers. What really makes this novel stand out is both its innovations to the detective novel, along with its thoughtful and intelligent depiction of Tourette Syndrome.

Trust me. Read this.
Trust me. Read this.

Watch Colin Farrell in In Bruges

Did Colin Farrell impress you this season? Do you want to see the best performance of his life? This is the movie to watch. (And if you like it, check out Seven Psychopaths, also starring Farrell and with the same director as In Bruges.)


You’ll also notice similarities between this character and the one Farrell plays on True Detective, while it showcases the range of his acting abilities.

Read Sanctuary by William Faulkner

The earliest novel on this list, from 1931, Sanctuary is the novel you might not everyone realize was actually Faulkner’s first commercial success. It’s a “potboiler” mystery, as Faulkner called it, set in a violent world, populated with damaged people. The protagonist attempting to solve the mystery is not an official detective but a lawyer, pulled into a world of murder, rape, sex slavery and vigilante violence A review published in Time in 1931 said of the book that “all heroism is swamped by the massed villainy that weighs down these pages.” Remind you of anything?


It’s also worth noting that Faulkner went on to move to Hollywood, where he adapted novels into screenplays… including Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep.

Watch Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut

Masks, sex parties, corruption, and murder. A mystery that can’t be fully grasped. A protagonist who isn’t sure what his role is or where he belongs. It’s Kubrick’s last film, and perhaps his best. If the party from episode six didn’t remind you of Eyes Wide Shut, that means you haven’t seen Eyes Wide Shut.

Okay, maybe this party is sightly weirder than the one in True Detective.
Okay, maybe this party is sightly weirder than the one in True Detective.

Watch Cary Fukunaga’s Jane Eyre

Cary Fukunaga directed every episode of the first season of True Detective. He also served as a producer on the second season. He’s very talented, and this talent can be seen in his 2011 adaptation of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, starring Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender. Like True Detective, it’s non-linear, intelligent, intense and beautiful.

I realize this doesn't exactly appear to have a True Detective vibe, but you should check it out nonetheless.
I realize this doesn’t exactly appear to have a True Detective vibe, but you should check it out nonetheless.

Read The L.A. Quartet by James Ellroy

I’ll admit it: I haven’t read these books yet. But the consensus is that they’ve been a major influence on Season Two. I intend to start with Black Dahlia, the first novel in the quartet. If this seems too daunting, you can always watch L.A. Confidential, the 1997 film based on Ellroy’s novel, starring Guy Pearce, Kevin Spacey, Kim Basinger, Danny DeVito, Russell Crowe, and the farmer from Babe.


Read The Teachings of Don Juan: a Yaqui Way of Knowledge by Carlos Castaneda

You might have noticed Rick Springfield’s Dr. Irving Pitlor reading the Carlos Castaneda book A Separate Reality in one of his scenes. These books are the non-fiction narrative of one man’s journey into hallucinatory shamanism in the Southwest, beginning in 1961,  during an apprenticeship with a diablero he calls Don Juan. A Separate Reality, the book Pitlor is seen reading, is the second book in the series.

These books explore many of the same themes as both season of True Detective, including hallucinations, deceptions, illusions, our attempts to understand the world, and the relationships between humans and animals. In the Foreword, the book is described as “both ethnography and allegory.” One could say the same of True Detective. And, based on its appearance in the show, it has undoubtedly been an influence.


Watch Roman Polanski’s Chinatown

The premise sounds boring: corruption involving water. But hey, the premise of “corruption involving traffic” also sounds boring, and that’s what season two of True Detective was about.

This is a film that everyone should see, whether you like True Detective or not. But you do like True Detective, so you should especially watch it. It’s probably the best thing Jack Nicholson has ever done, including the greatest uttering of shut the fuck up of all time.

Read 2666 by Roberto Bolano

We’ve already dedicated an entire post to why all True Detective fans must read 2666. Although that was written before Season Two. This season has only highlighted the influences of Bolano on Nic Pizzolatto, with the disappeared women, dangerous parties, amorous and overwhelmed detectives, and unexpected death. It’s worth reading as soon as you can and no, it’s not the science fiction novel you would expect a book named 2666 to be. The fourth part of the novel, “The Part About the Crimes,” will exhaust you and confuse you, but by the end you will know it is a masterpiece.

Watch Season One of True Detective

Because time is a flat circle.  Everything we’ve ever done or will do, we’re gonna do over and over again. #RustCohleQuotes

Enjoy this list, but looking for something else to read? Check out Books by D. F. Lovett. 

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