"The second season has received generally positive reviews, however many critics feel it is not as strong as the first. On Rotten Tomatoes, the season has a rating of 65%, based on 72 reviews, with an average rating of 6.4/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "True Detective 's second season stands on its own as a solid police drama, with memorable moments and resonant relationships outweighing predictable plot twists." On Metacritic, the season has a score of 61 out of 100, based on 41 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
David Hinckley of the New York Daily News gave it a very positive review, and wrote "It's still the kind of show that makes TV viewers reach for phrases like 'golden age of television drama'" and that "the second installment of True Detective goes out of the way not to echo the first." Hank Stuever of The Washington Post gave it a generally positive review, praising the performances, and wrote, "There is something still lugubrious and overwrought about True Detective, but there's also a mesmerizing style to it — it's imperfect, but well made."
A more mixed review came from Brian Lowry of Variety, who wrote "Although generally watchable, the inspiration that turned the first [season] into an obsession for many seems to have drained out of writer Nic Pizzolatto's prose.""
IMO both seasons are evidence of an emerging Golden Age in American TV drama productions. The quality of writing, production and direction were all superb.
These series exist at a number of artistic levels. They can be seen as mere cop show extravaganzas. At that level they work remarkably well.
More importantly, they are, IMO, powerful metaphors for the general disintegration of what were not long ago well accepted cultural norms involving personal behavior and expectations regarding the functions of government.
This is not to say that there was a utopian age in an America that worked well for all, but there were enough shared values in pre-60s America for it to have been possible to say without irony that there were such things as coherent national and regional cultures. Such a thing as national or regional epic was possible based on shared values. IMO and evidently in the collective mind of the "True Detective" crew such coherent, functioning cultures are no more. They were systematically destroyed over the last fifty years by those who sought a brave new world disorganized on the basis of and excused by a drive for extreme forms of social justice and leveling. This drive has treated all tradition as enemy. This brave new world has resulted, once again IMO, in a Hobbesian universe in which the juggernaut of "progress" rolls over and crushes American social institutions one by one. The latest victims of this institutional destruction are the police, the guardians of social order. In the new and wonderfully dystopian America, policemen who have done their duty in defense of life and property are persecuted and dismissed by politicians and police chiefs who are mere warriors in the struggle of all against all. There are, of course policemen guilty of egregious misconduct as in the case of the fool in North Charleston, S.C. who shot a fleeing man in the back, but what is happening in the media is a general assault on the policing powers of the states and cities.
Season 1 of "True Detective" focused on this kind of descent into dystopia in Louisiana and East Texas. My impression is that the writer and director simply are more familiar with that part of the country and were more comfortable with a regional format as an "opening gun."
Season 2 is set in California and more closely devoted to Southern California, a lurking abscess in the fabric of the America that once was. In that world of the dark imaginings of the "True Detective" artists government is a cesspool of money corruption and selfish striving for personal gain that know no limits.
IMO this series will not live long. In season 2 the bad guys win and consolidate their gains, ready to move on to new depths. Americans, especially flyover Americans are unaccustomed to spectacles that do not end well in reward of virtue. "Put a ribbon around it" is a common exhortation in US TV production. This means that happy endings are expected and demanded. "True Detective" puts paid to that distortion of reality. In the "True Detective" world there are no Yellow Brick Roads, Lassie does not come home and Shirley Temple does not dance with Bojangles Robinson.
THE PEOPLE, the real people sense the decline of their way of life and its rejection by the Borgist elites. The unhappiness of THE PEOPLE can be seen in the reaction to Trump and Sanders. pl