It’s safe to say this season of “True Detective” hasn’t had quite the same level of acclaim as its first season. Between a cast of relevant characters that numbers in the dozens to a mystery that can be downright dull, it hasn’t been as smooth a ride as the first season. But the character who’s fared the worst this season might be Rachel McAdams’ Ani Bezzerides, the tough, competent cop working in concert with Colin Farrell’s messy Ray Velcoro and Taylor Kitsch’s deeply closeted Paul Woodrugh. After all the criticism last year that the show lacked significant female characters, we finally got a female lead this year. And here’s a short list of what went wrong with her. Not all of these things, on their own, are problems for a character, but when added together, for the only female character…well, there start to be some issues.
1. Introduced in her underwear
2. She’s clearly just had sex right after we meet her
3. Also in that scene, it’s implied that there is something wrong and weird and shameful about her sex life
4. Her tragic backstory is partially that her mother was mentally unstable and killed herself, which makes two different moms on this show with mental illness who killed themselves (the Chessanis’ mother also died this way), which is one momaway from being a trend about motherhood on this show. Strong side eye at Woodrugh’s deeply Oedipal mom.
5. We eventually learn she was molested as a child, which is obviously a sad, traumatic thing, but given that she was introduced with “weird” sexual tastes, it draws an unnecessary parallel between the two.
6. Her big undercover investigative sceneinvolves going undercover as a prostitute at an orgy
7. The fact that she watches porn on the internet is played as seedy and shameful. A woman! Watching porn! The horror!
8. She gets to explore the novel idea of a woman in trouble for sexual harassment. Again, this isn’t inherently flawed as a plot point, but given the whole concept that this is the one female lead, it seems kind of unnecessary as a subplot.
9. Generally, her character is defined through either anger orsex. To be fair, everyone has had sexual hangups this season, from Woodrugh’s hidden sexuality to Velcoro and Semyon’sfertility issues, but Bezzerides seems to only have those two settings.
10. Has (thus far) the worst line in the series: “Maybe you were put on this earth for more than fucking.” Is this meant as a personal revelation for herself as well? Was this a sentiment in need of expression?
And yet, despite all this, she’s probably the most interesting character on the show. We’ll credit that one to McAdams, who’s doing her best with what she’s been given, such as Ray Velcoro, the world’s worst love interest. We really hope that she’s at least rewarded by surviving the finale.