True Detective

Anyone else watching this new HBO show? It takes place in my corner of Louisiana, Cajun country/Louisiana prairie. (Yes, south Louisiana has prairie. It’s not all gator-infested bayou.) It’s always nice when Hollywood remembers that the state isn’t entirely made up of just New Orleans, much as I love the city. In fact, the murder victim in the pilot is found in Erath, which is literally down the road from me: if you go to the end of my street and cross LA-14 (which is a rural highway, so probably not what most of you think of when you think of a highway), you’d be in Erath.

true detective

Visually, I’d say it’s entirely an accurate representation of south Louisiana, which makes sense because they filmed it here. The rustling cane fields, the sugar and natural gas refineries spewing white smoke, the murmuration (seriously, that’s what it’s called) of starlings swirling through the air, the single huge oak standing out in a flat field. And of course, the abandoned church. I’m sure it was a set built for the show, but things like that exist here; I’ve photographed a bunch of them. When something in Louisiana burns down or gets wrecked in a hurricane or just abandoned, it doesn’t always get torn down and tidied up.

And the writing and acting is good, too. The storyline is more of a slow burn, but I prefer that to car chases and explosions every 30 seconds. Admittedly, the popular notion of Louisiana as (to use the A.V. Club’s words) “a lawless, hothouse trouble spot populated by weirdoes, freaks, perverts, vampires, hoodoo wimmen, and gangsters plotting to assassinate the president” sometimes gets old to those of us that live here. The only show to ever realistically portray Louisiana as a place where (mostly) normal people live (mostly) normal lives remains Tremé; perhaps not coincidentally, that show had dismal ratings. (Also–sort of–the ’80s sitcom Frank’s Place. Which lasted a single season. And also the premise was that Frank had to run the family business and stay in NOLA rather than sell it and move back to New England because of a Voodoo curse. So that’s really kind of a wash.)

But you know, I’ll take weird religious serial killers and creepy abandoned churches and matriarchal brothels out in the wilderness over the current “reality” TV portrayal of Louisianans as a bunch of mouth-breathing, gator-wrasslin’, drunken hillbillies.

Oh, and if you saw the photo of Dora Lange as a child surrounded by men on horseback wearing pointed hoods and thought OMG KKK, no. Those were Courir de Mardi Gras:

Courir de Mardi Gras_Dejouant ses bourreaux_HRoe_2012

The pointed hat is a traditional part of the local Mardi Gras costume and has been around much longer than the Klan. Wearing cheap plastic beads and flashing your boobs and/or dressing like a demented streetwalker is a New Orleans thing.

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