A selection of stories I read around the Web today …
True Detective finale
Slate’s David Haglund and Willa Paskin exchanged emails immediately after the finale and break it down … Haglund is more OK with all of the show’s loose ends than Paskin is, who was bothered by the final and how things were left, particularly how Maggie, Audrey and, to an extent, the Yellow King were basically irrelevant. We were all set up for surprises and didn’t get much of one at all.
Paskin followed up later on Monday with a thoughtful post on the show’s “woman problem” and how its infatuation with men and masculinity is a primary factor in True Detective’s overwhelming success. Most premium cable dramas, Paskin writes, are like this, which means True Detective didn’t coincidentally leave Maggie and the other women as nothing more than caricatures.
I was disappointed that Maggie, in particular, wasn’t explored more. She was a fascinating character to me, and when she was pulled into the interview room with Papania and Gilbough a couple episodes ago and asked about Marty and Rust, I thought that was a ramp to what would be an acceleration of her involvement in the remainder of the show.
I thought she was a lynchpin of sorts, the strongest thread between the show’s two leads and one of the Internet’s suspected criminals (Maggie’s father). Except none of that happened, and we were left were her drifting away in the finale without further contemplation. Too bad.
Vulture’s Kenny Herzog touches on the answers we didn’t get in his recap and has one line in his outtakes about something I haven’t seen discussed much – that conversation between Marty and Rust about Maggie!
It bugged me that after Marty and Rust reconnected and began spending all these hours in Marty’s new drab office, that wasn’t one of the first things they addressed, even awkwardly. Wouldn’t there be, you know, some air to clear between two men when one slept with the other’s then-wife?
So when they did discuss it during a car ride in the season finale, it moved one stone to the side, at least for me, and delivered another of Rust’s dry lines of wisdom when he tells Marty everyone has a choice – just as he did when he had sex with Maggie. Glad that’s out of the way.
After the season finale, Alan Sepinwall did a Q&A with Nic Pizzolatto, who wrote the show. Nic adds some additional depth to the series, and it’s interesting to hear how, in a script that’s so violent and repulsive in so many ways, it’s not really the crime or unsolved case that interested him. He has his reasons for making it a child murder case, but as we saw from watching the episodes, everything existing around Hart and Cole serves only as another tool to tell their stories. It’s sort of funny how a guy who wrote such a vivid and complex crime script sort of looks at that genre of content and goes, “Ehh …”
Lastly, a Daily Beast interview from last month with Pizzolatto about his creative process, the challenges of writing True Detective and the pressure to now deliver a second time (and possibly a third).
The New York Times writer and Columbia University instructor has a column on some advice she recently gave journalism students about entering our murky media world. Margaret’s words are certainly valuable and worth a read.
I’d offer this to journalism students listening to the repeated mantra of doom that surrounds so many parts of the industry they’re studying: You’re not entering the journalism business today like reporters pre-Internet were entering the journalism business – i.e. small papers with little money are the only entryways to the industry. A better way to think of what you’re entering today is the “content business.”
Things evolve. Television networks are becoming increasingly aligned with digital platforms and focusing on “screens” of any kind — be it a 60-inch in your living room, a 13-inch on your lap, a tablet or a phone. They’re all vehicles.
I would think of journalism in the same way. Old principles of integrity and truth, which Sullivan underscores, of course still apply, but the infrastructure of the industry is much broader and more accepting. Media is the business of delivering content to users, and content is consumed everywhere. So “journalism” isn’t done only at local town halls; it’s done anytime content delivers a story, which is happening, quite literally, in your hands in all locations. That’s an exciting proposition.
One more Willa Paskin link: She has a great profile of Elisabeth Moss, the actress who plays Peggy Olson in Mad Men.
Willa’s always great, and Moss was refreshingly self-deprecating about her line of work.
This is a brutal piece to read, one that sat as an open tab on my laptop for three days before I decided to read it, because it digs up the horrific Sandy Hook shooting in December 2012 that left 26 dead at an elementary school, including 20 children (not including the shooter or his mother). So feel free to pass, but I’m including it here with a brief note because I think there’s something for writers to learn.
Andrew Solomon of The New Yorker got Peter Lanza, the father of shooter Adam Lanza, to speak for the first time since his son’s rampage and has a long piece that’s driven by Peter’s life after his son and first wife were among those left dead in the shooting. But there’s really four stories here, all of which are superbly reported and weaved together.
There’s the story of Adam as a child with autism and the struggles he endured to become anything like a normal young man. There’s the examination of Adam as a killer and the signs that were missed. There’s the tale of a failed marriage, between Peter and Nancy, and the wreckage that can be left on a family when parents split and a divorce distances one, if not both of them, from their children. And, finally, there’s the terrorized life of Peter Lanza and how this mass shooting has come to define his name and his life.
No comments or opinions are needed here. If you’re a young writer, I would just suggest reading the story with an eye on how Andrew executed the reporting and the storytelling and ask yourself how you’d handle a similar assignment.
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