Life After True Detective: What to Watch Next

by | March 10, 2014 | Comments

Ending a favorite TV show, even for a few months, can leave you feeling more lost than Robert Redford on a torn-up Cal 39 in the middle of the Indian Ocean, and with True Detective wrapped up until further notice, you may need counseling for Seasonal Finale Disorder before you can face Mondays again. Even if you never find another Southern Gothic, slow-burn, anti-buddy detective story that strikes every creepy chord of True Detective, you might enjoy one of these:

Top of the Lake

What it is: Elizabeth Moss (Mad Men) plays Detective Robin Griffin searching for a 12-year-old pregnant girl in Sundance Channel’s miniseries directed by Jane Campion and Gerard Lee.

Commitment: The complete series is seven 50-minute installments. (Learn more in our Top of the Lake Weekly Binge).

Why you might like it: Atmospheric and disturbing, the mystery unravels in a remote enclave of Southern New Zealand where misfits are the norm. Compelling digressions build strong characters.

The Wicker Man


What it is: No, not the one with Nic Cage punching a bunch of ladies in the face. The 1974 version by British director Robin Hardy holds up as cult horror film and compelling mystery.

Commitment: A short but intense ride, the original Wicker Man movie runs just 88 minutes.

Why you might like it: Creepy factor is a 10 on account of religious themes and folksy terror (and animal masks). The mystery will keep you guessing until the end — and stay with you for a long time.

The Bridge

What it is: On the bridge connecting El Paso and Juarez, the discovery of a corpse — which turns out to be the halves of two different women — forces a duo of detectives from opposite sides of the U.S.-Mexico border to work together.

Commitment: Season one delivers the entire story arc of this particular crime in 13 episodes. Season two is coming to FX this summer.

Why you might like it: The unlikely partnership between a Texan straight-laced female police officer with Asperger’s and a not-so-by-the-book Mexican male detective takes this manhunt figuratively and literally all over the map.


What it is: Kenneth Brannagh is Kurt Wallander, a rumpled, middle-aged, self-loathing detective whose most challenging mystery is his own existential crisis. PBS’s Masterpiece Mystery! miniseries is based on popular Swedish crime novels by Henning Mankell.

Commitment: So far, Wallander is three seasons, with a total of nine 90-minute stand-alone mysteries.

Why you might like it: Brannagh’s world-class acting animates an intriguing character, while the dark mysteries satisfy the pickiest at-home sleuths. Cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle (Slumdog Millionaire) interprets the Swedish countryside with gloomy beauty, even in broad daylight.

The Silence


What it is: Baran bo Odar’s German crime film is an intense, psychological whodunit which connects two murders over the span of 23 years.

Commitment: The Silence takes two hours to accomplish what other storytellers need an entire season of television to do.

Why you might like it: Similar to True Detective, the heinous crimes in The Silence occur decades apart, weaving a narrative about the investigators, victims and killers from past to present.

Angel Heart


What it is: A crime noir starring Mickey Rourke, Robert De Niro and Lisa Bonet, the movie Angel Heart follows a sleazy private investigator’s unpredictable journey from Harlem to the heart of the bayou.

Commitment: Experience the descent into hell in just under two hours.

Why you might like it: Angel Heart showcases strong acting against the steamy, occult-ridden backdrop of New Orleans in the 1950s. Also, Matthew McConaughey picked it as one of his Five Favorite Films.


What it is: After the mysterious death of an 11-year-old boy in a British coastal village, Detectives Alec Hardy and Ellie Miller probe the lives of multiple suspects.

Commitment: BBC America aired the eight episodes of season one in 2013 and season two is on its way.

Why you might like it: Impeccably paced, Broadchurch sustains a multidimensional character study with masterful acting and an ominous, vivid sense of place. In a small town where everyone is a suspect, paranoia and grief are treated with equal weight.


What it is: Hannibal Lecter is a brilliant psychiatrist consulting for FBI agent Will Graham in NBC’s prequel to Silence of the Lambs.

Commitment: Season one is 13 42-minute episodes; NBC is currently airing new episodes of season two, which is Certified Fresh by critics.

Why you might like it: Hannibal takes a more cerebral (and totally gross-out) approach to the serial killer genre than other prime-time procedurals, using multiple episodes to unfold each mystery, along with Lecter and Graham’s especially dark connection.

Sin Nombre


What it is: A thrilling Spanish-language film depicts a teen’s attempt to quit a notorious Mexican street gang.

Commitment: Sin Nombre is 96 fierce minutes.

Why you might like it: In his directorial debut, True Detective director Cary Joji Fukunaga delivers an immersive character study within the richly detailed world of Mexican gang violence.



What it is: David Fincher (Fight Club, Se7en) renders the perplexing true-life mystery of San Francisco’s Zodiac Killer with suspense, style and an all-star cast.

Commitment: At 157 minutes, Zodiac is the perfect rainy-day movie.

Why you might like it: Fincher’s ability to build tension over long sequences of moody photography will have your hairs standing on end and — even though Zodiac is a long one — when it’s over, you’ll wish there were more.

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