Why True Detective Season 2 Is Really, Really Bad

HBO's True Detective has premiered its second season to a genuinely lackluster response by both fans and critics. Some saw a glimmer of hope in the show's messy premiere; others were ready to call season 1 a flash in the pan. Is the Emmy-winning series experiencing the same sophomore slump that plagued so many other critically acclaimed series before it? Or is it, perhaps, just a slow burn? The first few episodes seem to suggest the latter — and then some. Here's why.

The Theme Song Is Terrible

The theme song itself is a dying breed in television, so in a sense, we should be grateful that True Detective not only has one, but also lets it play in full every week. And yet, every time we hear the song play, we can't help but reach for the fast-forward button on our remote. No offense to the legendary Leonard Cohen, but his "Nevermind" plays out like a cheap imitation of The Wire's classic theme song, "Way Down in the Hole" by Tom Waits. Why couldn't they have just went with the song featured in the teaser-trailer — "The Only Thing Worth Fighting For" by Lera Lynn — instead?

Vince Vaughn Was Horribly Miscast

Sometimes, casting against type can work so well, it'll win an actor an Oscar. Other times, it can bring an entire movie or TV show to a screeching halt. So far, the decision to cast Vince Vaughn puts True Detective into the latter category. Vaughn's three-minute monologue in episode 2 is especially painful to watch; a cheap imitation of the great work done by Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson in season 1. If his bad acting continues, True Detective could turn into an unintentional comedy series.

It's Trying Way Too Hard To Be 'Twin Peaks'

We love a good homage; but the spooky Conway Twitty cover of Bette Midler's "The Rose" that opens episode 3 felt more like theft than anything else. Seriously, True Detective — save the Twin Peaks stuff for Showtime's upcoming reboot.

The Death Fake-Out Is A Total Cop-Out

Killing off a main character (Colin Farrell's Detective Ray Velcoro) in the second episode of the series? Bold move. Revealing that said main character was actually shot by rubber bullets in episode 3? Come ON. Typically, highly successful shows wait until later seasons to rely on cheap cliffhangers to keep viewers watching. The fact that True Detective is resorting to that low of a common denominator so soon suggests trouble ahead.

The Murder Mystery Just Isn't Very Interesting

So much of what makes True Detective season 1 interesting is the creepy, gothic tone set forth by the setting (Louisiana) and bizarre-o murder mystery. (The first scene at the tree? Horrors.) Transferring the setting from the Deep South to smoggy Los Angeles has made the show feel less like The Silence of the Lambs and more like Law & Order: LA. Unless the bird costume featured in episode 2 somehow connects season 2 to season 1, we may be in for just another run-of-the-mill cop story.

The Writing Is Super Heavy-Handed

We've already touched upon Vince Vaughn's pain-stakingly bad monologue in episode 2; but even simple plot points seem to have been created in Screenplay 101. Case in point: In the first episode, Detective Ani Bezzerides (Rachel McAdams) has run-ins with both her estranged sister (a stripper!) and father (a mentor of sorts at some hippie-like cult). What's next, her mom killed Ben Caspar?

McAdams And Farrell Are No Match For Harrelson And McConaughey

On their own, Rachel McAdams and Colin Farrell are terrific actors; Farrell proved he has legitimate chops in In Bruges, and, duh, Mean Girls is still awesome. But their back-and-forth interaction during episode 3's car ride has nothing on the spark, intrigue, and chemistry put forth by Harrelson and McConaughey last season. To be fair: McAdams appears to be giving a performance much different than anything we've ever seen on her resume — and it's quite good. Farrell, meanwhile, appears to have based his performance on every bad '70s cop drama he could find on Netflix. And that's not good at all.